FBI says Chinese hackers are preparing to attack US infrastructure. By Reuters

3 Min Read

By Christopher Bing

Nashville, Tenn. (Reuters) – Chinese government-linked hackers have dug into U.S. critical infrastructure and are waiting “for just the right moment to deliver a devastating blow,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Thursday.

An ongoing Chinese hacking campaign known as Volt Typhoon has successfully accessed numerous U.S. companies in telecommunications, energy, water and other critical sectors, with 23 pipeline operators targeted, Wray said in a speech at Vanderbilt University .

China is developing the “ability to physically destroy our critical infrastructure at a time of its choosing,” Wray said at the 2024 Vanderbilt Summit on Modern Conflict and Emerging Threats. “The plan is to deliver low blows to civilian infrastructure , in an attempt to create panic.”

Wray said it was difficult to determine the intent of this cyber pre-positioning, which was in line with China’s broader intention to deter the US from defending Taiwan.

China claims democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. Taiwan strongly objects to Chinese sovereignty claims, saying only the island’s people can decide their future.

Earlier this week, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that Volt Typhoon in fact has no ties to the Chinese government, but is part of a criminal ransomware group.

In a statement, the Chinese embassy in Washington referred back to the MFA spokesperson’s comment. “Some in the US are using tracing the origins of cyberattacks as a tool to target and frame China, claiming the US is the victim when it is the other way around, and politicizing cybersecurity issues.”

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Wray said the Chinese hackers operated a series of botnets – constellations of compromised personal computers and servers around the world – to conceal their malicious cyber activities. US private sector technology and cybersecurity companies previously attributed Volt Typhoon to China, including reports from security researchers at Microsoft (NASDAQ:) and Google (NASDAQ:).

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