Taiwan security official warns of crippling Chinese cyberattacks

Chinese cyberattacks could disrupt Taiwan's infrastructure, said a top security official

Chinese cyberattacks targeting Taiwan are moving beyond stealing sensitive information, and could be capable of crippling the island's transportation and financial systems, a top security official claimed on Wednesday.

"Before, China's cyberattacks focused on stealing our information," said Tsai De-sheng, director general of Taiwan's National Security Bureau. "However, now we've discovered that they're not just stealing information, but possibly gradually focused on destroying our infrastructure."

Tsai made his comments during a committee meeting of Taiwan's legislature that was later broadcast online through local media. The dangers of a Chinese cyberattack against the island's government and private groups are "considerably serious," he said.

Chinese hackers have already stolen information, which include data on Taiwanese employees. The attacks are so severe that they've become more dangerous to global security than terrorist attacks, he added.

In response, Taiwan's national security council and the executive branch have established an information security office. Even Taiwan's president Ma Ying-jeou is paying attention to the problem, Tsai said.

Tsai's warnings add to mounting concerns that China is behind sophisticated hacking attacks against foreign companies. Last month, U.S. security firm Mandiant claimed that a Chinese military unit had stolen data from at least 141 companies since 2006.

Chinese authorities, however, have rejected accusations that the government sponsors hacking, and said the nation is also a victim of cyber attacks. "Cyber space needs not war, but rules and cooperation," said China's foreign minister Yang Jiechi earlier this month.

In 2011, a Taiwanese political party also accused China of hacking its systems to access data on its election activities. The attacks were traced to China's state-run Xinhua News Agency, and allegedly involved a phishing campaign to monitor computers used by the political party.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Topics: intrusion, security, government, Taiwan National Security Bureau
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