Hackers codenamed “Volt Typhoon” attacked critical infrastructure organizations on the island of Guam. Photo: APFOotage/Alamy Stock Photo. backed by hackers infiltrated US communication systems in the Pacific, raising fears that Beijing might cut off US military channels during its invasion of Taiwan.
Security researchers at Microsoft said the hackers code-named “Volt Typhoon” were caught infiltrating critical national infrastructure on the Pacific island of Guam, which serves as an important US military foothold in the region.
Microsoft said: ” covert and targeted” campaign has been ongoing since at least 2021 and “targets critical infrastructure organizations in Guam and elsewhere in the United States.”
“In this campaign, affected organizations span the sectors of communications, manufacturing, utilities, transportation, construction, maritime, government, information technology, and education.” the researchers said.
Hackers appear to be using their access to spy on U.S. operations, but Microsoft warned that the group “continues to develop capabilities that could disrupt critical communications infrastructure between the United States and the Asian region during future crises.”
The discovery of Operation Volt-Typhoon will raise fears that China may try to cut off US communications in the region during an invasion of Taiwan.
Chinese President Xi Jinping believes that Taiwan is rightfully part of his country, and promised to take island under your control.
Guam, the US military foothold in the Western Pacific will play an important role in the event of a Chinese invasion. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images AsiaPac
Taiwan has long been a US ally, and President Joe Biden has repeatedly vowed to come to military aid if Beijing threatens the country.
Guam is an important base for the US military in the Western Pacific. The US island territory, less than 3,000 miles from Taiwan, will play a major role in America's response to the Chinese invasion.
Guam also hosts the region's most important communications infrastructure. A major telecommunications cable runs through the island, connecting Japan and Australia, while another connects Taiwan and Singapore to Tokyo.
The discovery of a Chinese state-owned hacker gang has sparked worldwide alarm from the Five Eyes spy alliance.
The U.S. Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency said: “Private sector partners have determined that these activities affect networks in critical U.S. infrastructure. sectors.
Australia, the UK, Canada and New Zealand echoed the US warning, warning service providers such as telecommunications, energy, ports and pipelines to be on high alert in case of further Chinese intrusion.
Paul Chichester, Director of operations at the National Cybersecurity Center, GCHQ's defense arm, said: “It is critical that operators of critical national infrastructure take steps to ensure that attackers do not hide on their systems.”
Mark Bernard, lead Chinese researcher at cybersecurity company Secureworks, said Chinese spies worked very hard to cover their tracks.
The hackers were unusually well disguised, using only the tools built into Microsoft Windows to spy.< /p>
Typically, state-backed hackers use specially written software to achieve their goals. This malware or malware almost always leaves trails that allow security officials to track down spies.
In recent years, US officials have stepped up investigations into alleged spying by Chinese citizens amid rising tensions between the two countries . countries. In 2020 and 2021, the US Department of Justice filed charges in connection with alleged cyber espionage and hacking.US President Joe Biden has repeatedly promised to come to military aid to Taiwan if he is threatened by Beijing. Photo: RICK D'ELIA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Mr. Bernard said, “These professional developments were likely sparked by a series of high-profile US Justice Department allegations of Chinese citizens allegedly involved in cyber espionage.”< /p>
Jamie McCall, a cybersecurity research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute think tank, said the Volt Typhoon campaign signaled “a shift in Chinese activity that has historically not been afraid to be detected.”
“It's not often seen such co-attributions for every member of the Five Eyes, especially China…so it's quite remarkable.”
John Hultquist, chief analyst at Google-owned cybersecurity company Mandiant, said: “China's offensive capabilities have been very opaque, and frankly, they've been very hard to find… [so far] they haven't really shown us what they're capable of.”
Don Smith, Secureworks VP of Threat Research, said: “Being caught is the worst that can happen is if you are a hostile statesman, because that can be used for either covert or overt diplomatic embarrassment, like today.”
On Thursday, China denied accusations from the US, saying they were part of a “collective disinformation campaign.”
Mao Ning's spokesman told Reuters: “The United States is an empire of hackers. ”