According to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, a hacker group affiliated with the Chinese government was preparing to disrupt civilian infrastructure. The hackers are said to have targeted water and energy companies, the transport sector and telecom services in the United States.
FBI Director Chris Wray announced that police have dismantled the hackers’ so-called botnet. This consisted of hundreds of hijacked routers, mainly privately owned and owned by small companies. The affected network equipment from the Cisco and NetGear brands was outdated and was no longer provided with security updates by the manufacturers. The hackers were therefore able to penetrate the routers and use them to disguise the origin of attacks on critical infrastructure, the FBI said.
Software company Microsoft warned in May last year about the activities of the hacker group, which it calls Volt Typhoon. At that time, the attackers are said to have mainly focused on infrastructure around US military bases, including in Hawaii and on the island of Guam in the Pacific Ocean, an important military base in the Indo-Pacific.
The New York Times and The Washington Post wrote last year that, according to American security officials, China would want to delay an American response if the People’s Republic were to invade Taiwan.
Wray announced the dismantling of the botnet just before he was to address a House committee formed to investigate the Chinese threat.
China has not yet responded to Wray’s claims. Beijing previously called US allegations of hacking “groundless” and said Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that “China would be the biggest victim of cyber attacks.”
The Chinese Communist Party-affiliated newspaper Global Times reported on Wednesday that a Chinese security company would have detected more than twelve hundred cyber attacks from a total of thirteen different foreign hacker groups in 2023. The message mainly points to the United States, which, for example, allegedly tried to break into a seismological institute in Wuhan. The seismological data from that institute could be used to create detailed three-dimensional maps of strategically important areas.
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