A senior U.S. cybersecurity official warned on Monday that in the event of a conflict with the United States, Chinese hackers are highly likely to interfere with key American infrastructure, including pipelines and railways.
As per Reuters, the Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Jen Easterly, made these remarks during a session at the Aspen Institute in Washington. She pointed out that Beijing is significantly investing in the ability to undermine U.S. infrastructure.
“This, I think, is the real threat that we need to be prepared for, and to focus on, and to build resilience against,” Easterly commented. “Given the formidable nature of the threat from Chinese state actors, given the size of their capability, given how much resources and effort they’re putting into it, it’s going to be very, very difficult for us to prevent disruptions from happening.”
She advised that it was essential for the American public to brace for the possibility of Chinese hackers bypassing U.S. safeguards and inflicting tangible damage.
BREAKING: A senior US cybersecurity official has told Reuters that Chinese hackers are ready to disrupt critical American infrastructure including pipelines & railways if conflict between the U.S. & China intensifies.
Thank goodness Biden is focused on the issues that matter…
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) June 12, 2023
The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request seeking a reaction to the warning.
Easterly’s comments followed a question about an alleged Chinese hacking group known as Volt Typhoon, which U.S. officials and cybersecurity companies accused of positioning itself to carry out destructive cyberattacks in the event of a conflict.
Her comments expanded on a warning issued earlier this year by the U.S. intelligence community, which said in its annual threat assessment that Beijing “certainly would consider undertaking aggressive cyber operations against U.S. homeland critical infrastructure” and military targets should Chinese decision-makers believe a major fight with the United States were imminent.
China has consistently refuted any accusations of cyber-espionage, as is the case with the allegations against Volt Typhoon. However, evidence detailing Beijing’s involvement in cyberespionage operations has been amassing over the past twenty years.
The issue has received heightened attention over the previous decade as Western investigators have traced various security breaches back to certain divisions within the People’s Liberation Army. Additionally, numerous Chinese officials have been indicted by U.S. law enforcement for allegedly pilfering confidential American information.