Microsoft on Wednesday warned that a Chinese state-sponsored hacking group – “Volt Typhoon” has compromised “critical” US cyber infrastructure across several industries – including manufacturing, construction, maritime, government, information technology and education.
The group, which has operated since 2021, is apparently working to disrupt “critical communications infrastructure between the United States and Asia,” as well as gather intelligence, in order to weaken efforts during “future crises.”
Infrastructure in nearly every critical sector has been impacted, Microsoft said, including the communications, transport, and maritime industries. Government organizations were also targeted. –CNBC
According to the advisory from Microsoft – which has “directly notified targeted or compromised customers,” the attack is apparently ongoing. The company has urged impacted customers to “close or change credentials for all compromised accounts.”
As Bloomberg notes, “Guam, a US island territory located 1,600 miles (about 2,600 kilometers) east of Manila, has become an increasingly important military and strategic hub as tensions with China ratchet up, including the possibility that it might use its military to enforce its claim to the self-ruled island of Taiwan.”
Volt Typhoon initially gained access to the targeted organizations through internet-facing devices manufactured by Fortinet Inc., a Sunnyvale, California-based cybersecurity company, according to Microsoft, adding it was still investigating how the hackers were able to access the equipment. The hackers used whatever privileges they could gain from the Fortinet devices to extract more credentials to authenticate to other devices on the networks, Microsoft said. There, the hackers intended “to perform espionage and maintain access without being detected for as long as possible,” Microsoft added. -Bloomberg
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security has warned that the CCP presents a “grave threat” to the US homeland – and is actively working to undermine US security and damage America’s economic standing, according to a senior official
More via The Epoch Times,
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which rules China as a single-party state, seeks to leverage the whole of the Chinese nation against the United States, said Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Iranga Kahangama.
“Beijing presents an especially grave threat to the homeland,” Kahangama said during a May 23 hearing of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence.
“We must match our adversaries’ determination through a whole-of-government response, with DHS playing a leading role on the front lines of that defense every day.”
To that end, Kahangama said that the CCP regime “operates globally” and is “using all instruments of national power to target the United States” in its quest for global hegemony.
The United States, in response, must mobilize a whole-of-nation defense against such aggression, he said. The methods employed by the regime to undermine U.S. influence are just too varied to warrant any other response.
“[China] continues to employ both overt and clandestine methods to undercut U.S. national security and economic security interests, such as stealing advanced and sensitive technologies using traditional and non-traditional collectors, amplifying narratives that sow doubt in U.S. institutions, and messaging against U.S. politicians it deems hostile,” Kahangama said.
CCP Is ‘Trying to Undermine’ US
Subcommittee Chair August Pfluger (R-Texas) painted the growing competition between the CCP and the United States as one between democratic norms and values and rampant authoritarianism.
The CCP’s overarching goal, he said, was not merely to do better economically than the United States, but to destroy the very foundations of the republic as a whole, and to dismantle the international system built upon those foundations.
“This conflict is not with the individual citizens of [China],” Pfluger said.
“This conflict is with the CCP, an authoritarian regime that commits genocide against its own people, censors free speech across the globe, and aims to end democracy as we know it,” he said.
To that end, Pfluger provided the example of the recently closed Manhattan-based CCP police station, which operated as an extension of the regime’s ministry of public security, and said that the CCP sought to infiltrate and influence state and local governments to compel the United States into adopting policies that favored China from the ground up.
Subcommittee Ranking Member Seth Magaziner (D-R.I.) concurred, saying that the CCP was systematically destroying the United States’ economic advantage through illicit means.
“Each year, the CCP’s economic espionage against American business costs between $225–600 billion,” Magaziner said.
“It is indisputable … that the CCP is actively trying to undermine the economy and security of the United States,” Magaziner said. “More alarming, the intellectual property stolen by the CCP [does] not just include commercial products, designs, and trademarks for cheap knockoff and counterfeit products. It include[s] blueprints for fighter jets, helicopters, missiles, pharmaceuticals, and large-scale technologies.”
China Is the ‘Greatest Long-Term Threat’
FBI Deputy Assistant Director Jill Murphy testified that such illicit activities were part of a broader push by authoritarian powers including China, Russia, and Iran, which were cooperating with one another to erode the liberal system of governance espoused by democratic nations.
“We see nations such as China, Russia, and Iran becoming more aggressive and more capable in their nefarious activity than ever before,” Murphy said.
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