Chinese Cyberattacks Attempt to ‘Destroy Critical Infrastructure’

Chinese hacks into United States infrastructure are reportedly attempts to prepare for future action rather than immediate disruption, according to a report from The Washington Post.

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) at the Department of Homeland Security executive director Brandon Wales told the Post 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.”

“That is a significant change from Chinese cyber activity from seven to 10 years ago that was focused primarily on political and economic espionage.”

The cyber attacks have targeted water utilities and oil and gas pipelines.

According to the report, hackers have focused on creating pathways that could be used in the future.

China security studies fellow at the Jamestown Foundation Joe McReynolds explained, “You’re trying to build tunnels into your enemies’ infrastructure that you can later use to attack. Until then you lie in wait, carry out reconnaissance, figure out if you can move into industrial control systems or more critical companies or targets upstream. And one day, if you get the order from on high, you switch from reconnaissance to attack.”

In May, Microsoft warned that Chinese hackers may invade infrastructure networks.

Microsoft said “malicious” activity has been found in the United States and noted Guam may be another target.

“Microsoft assesses with moderate confidence that this Volt Typhoon campaign is pursuing development of capabilities that could disrupt critical communications infrastructure between the United States and Asia region during future crises,” a statement said, referring to a China-sponsored individual acting since mid-2021.

A similar advisory was released by U.S., Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and U.K. officials.