Sources Report, U.S. Allegedly Disrupts Chinese Hacking Network Targeting Vital Infrastructure!

In recent months, the U.S. government initiated an operation to counter an extensive Chinese hacking campaign that effectively breached numerous internet-connected devices, as disclosed by two Western security officials and an individual familiar with the situation.

According to sources speaking to Reuters, the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation obtained legal authorization to remotely deactivate certain components of the Chinese hacking initiative.

The Biden administration has heightened its attention on hacking, driven not only by concerns that foreign nations might attempt to interfere with the U.S. election in November but also due to the disruptive impact of ransomware on Corporate America in 2023.

The hacking collective garnering recent attention, Volt Typhoon, has raised significant concerns among intelligence officials, who assert that it is part of a broader initiative aimed at infiltrating critical Western infrastructure, such as naval ports, internet service providers, and utilities.

Although the Volt Typhoon campaign first surfaced in May 2023, it evolved and expanded its operations late last year, incorporating alterations to some of its techniques, as indicated by three individuals with knowledge of the situation.

The extensive scope of the hacks prompted a series of meetings between the White House and the private technology industry. This included engagements with various telecommunications and cloud computing companies, during which the U.S. government sought assistance in monitoring and tracking the malicious activity.

Repercussions of Hacking Skills

The potential impact of such breaches, according to national security experts, is the ability of China to remotely disrupt critical facilities in the Indo-Pacific region, providing support or services to US military operations in some capacity. Sources indicate that US officials are apprehensive about the hackers’ efforts, suspecting a motive to undermine US readiness in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

China, asserting territorial claims over democratically governed Taiwan, has heightened military activities near the island in response to perceived “collusion” between Taiwan and the United States.

The Justice Department and FBI declined to offer comments on the matter, and there was no immediate response from the Chinese embassy in Washington.

When initially alerted to Volt Typhoon in May, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, dismissed the hacking allegations as a “collective disinformation campaign” orchestrated by the Five Eyes countries, referencing the intelligence-sharing coalition comprising the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the UK.

Volt Typhoon operates by gaining control over vulnerable digital devices globally, such as routers, modems, and internet-connected security cameras, to facilitate subsequent attacks on more sensitive targets, as indicated by security researchers to Reuters. This network of remotely controlled systems, known as a botnet, raises significant concerns for security officials as it obscures the visibility of cyber defenders monitoring for foreign intrusions in their computer networks.

Explaining the modus operandi, a former official familiar with the situation stated “The Chinese are taking control of a camera or modem that is positioned geographically right next to a port or ISP (internet service provider) and then using that destination to route their intrusions into the real target. To the IT team at the downstream target, it just looks like a normal, native user that’s sitting nearby.”

The use of botnets by both governmental and criminal hackers for concealing the origins of their cyber operations is not a novel tactic. This approach is commonly employed when attackers aim to target numerous victims simultaneously or intend to obfuscate their source.

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