Monday, December 25, 2023

China’s Cyber Army is Invading Critical U.S. Services: A utility in Hawaii, a West Coast Port and a Pipeline are Among the Victims in the Past Year, Officials Say; China's Global Repression a Risk for the US: Commission Advising Congress

Jade Gao/AFP/Getty Images
China’s cyber army is invading critical U.S. services:
The Chinese military is ramping up its ability to disrupt key American infrastructure, including power and water utilities as well as communications and transportation systems, according to U.S. officials and industry security officials.
Hackers affiliated with China’s People’s Liberation Army have burrowed into the computer systems of about two dozen critical entities over the past year, these experts said.
The intrusions are part of a broader effort to develop ways to sow panic and chaos or snarl logistics in the event of a U.S.-China conflict in the Pacific, they said.
Among the victims are a water utility in Hawaii, a major West Coast port and at least one oil and gas pipeline, people familiar with the incidents told The Washington Post. The hackers also attempted to break into the operator of Texas’s power grid, which operates independently from electrical systems in the rest of the country.
Several entities outside the United States, including electric utilities, also have been victimized by the hackers, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.
None of the intrusions affected industrial control systems that operate pumps, pistons or any critical function, or caused a disruption, U.S. officials said. But they said the attention to Hawaii, which is home to the Pacific Fleet, and to at least one port as well as logistics centers suggests the Chinese military wants the ability to complicate U.S. efforts to ship troops and equipment to the region if a conflict breaks out over Taiwan.
These previously undisclosed details help fill out a picture of a cyber campaign dubbed Volt Typhoon, first detected about a year ago by the U.S. government, as the United States and China struggle to stabilize a relationship more antagonistic now than it has been in decades. Chinese military commanders refused for more than a year to speak to American counterparts even as close-call intercepts by Chinese fighter jets of U.S. spy planes surged in the western Pacific. President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed only last month to restore those communication channels.
“It is very clear that Chinese attempts to compromise critical infrastructure are in part to pre-position themselves to be able to disrupt or destroy that critical infrastructure in the event of a conflict, to either prevent the United States from being able to project power into Asia or to cause societal chaos inside the United States — to affect our decision-making around a crisis,” said Brandon Wales, executive director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). “That is a significant change from Chinese cyber activity from seven to 10 years ago that was focused primarily on political and economic espionage.” --->READ MORE HERE
Photo by JASON HENRY/AFP via Getty Images
China's Global Repression a Risk for the US: Commission Advising Congress:
China is using a toolkit of methods to silence critics in the U.S. and worldwide that is damaging the sovereignty of countries and citizens' rights and undermining global law enforcement, according to a new report by a U.S. congressional advisory commission exclusively obtained by Newsweek.
The "broad toolkit" of seven methods includes digital surveillance and harassment, deploying state security officers overseas to pursue and repatriate targets, and "coercion-by-proxy" or actions on behalf of Beijing—often carried out by overseas Chinese. They were part of an increasingly aggressive campaign by the government and the Communist Party of China to "stalk, surveil, harass, intimidate, and assault its victims," according to the report released on Wednesday titled, "China's Global Police State: Background and U.S. Policy Implications."
The report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission highlights influence operations which Newsweek has investigated extensively.
It comes amid increasingly adversarial relations between China and the U.S., with Chinese leader Xi Jinping saying that he intends to drive changes in the U.S.-led world order including by establishing new norms of global governance and security via a flagship "Global Security Initiative" which envisions Chinese leadership of global security governance.
It also comes after protesters including Hong Kongers, Tibetans and democracy activists say they were harassed and some reportedly physically attacked by people they say were acting in a coordinated fashion on behalf of the Chinese state, on the fringes of a meeting in San Francisco in November between President Joe Biden and Xi.
The U.S. is scrambling to push back in multiple spheres, for example by deepening alliances including military ones, and issuing new rules to manage economic interaction and science and technology outflows which critics say strengthen China's advances.
"China's global efforts to suppress dissent, forcibly repatriate people, and engage in extraterritorial law enforcement actions violate the sovereignty of countries around the world, threaten the rights of their citizens and residents, and undermine international law enforcement organizations and agreements," said the report, published ahead of a hearing into "transnational repression" by a congressional committee on Wednesday in Washington, D.C. --->READ MORE HERE
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