China could hack pipelines, rail systems, says U.S.

China could hack pipelines, rail systems, says U.S.
Image: Reuters

After researchers found a Chinese hacking group spying on oil and gas pipelines and rail systems, the U.S. State Department warned on Thursday that China could launch cyber attacks against critical infrastructure.

Chinese cyber-espionage targeted US military and government targets, according to a Wednesday multi-nation alert.

The US and its allies’ warning that Chinese spies are targeting Western targets has been dismissed by the Chinese government as a “collective disinformation campaign.”

U.S. officials were still assessing the threat.

“We’ve had at least one location that we didn’t know about since the hunt guide was released come forward with data and information,” NSA cybersecurity director Rob Joyce told RushHourDaily. To help critical service providers detect spying, the agency released technical details.

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said it was investigating “the breadth of potential intrusions and associated impacts.”

“Providing assistance where needed, and more effectively understanding the tactics undertaken by this adversary,” CISA’s executive assistant director Eric Goldstein told RushHourDaily.

According to researchers and officials, the covert nature of this espionage makes it harder to defend against.

“In these cases the adversary is often using legitimate credentials and legitimate network administration tools to gain access to execute their objectives on a target network,” Goldstein said. “Many traditional methods of detection, such as antivirus, will not find these intrusions.”

The campaign, dubbed Volt Typhoon by Microsoft analysts, “could disrupt critical communications infrastructure between the United States and Asia region during future crises” due to rising U.S.-China tensions over Taiwan and other issues.

“The U.S. intelligence community assesses that China almost certainly is capable of launching cyberattacks that could disrupt critical infrastructure services within the United States, including against oil and gas pipelines and rail systems,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a press briefing.

“Government and public network defenders must remain vigilant.”

After the 2021 Colonial Pipeline hack disrupted nearly half of the East Coast’s fuel supply, U.S. agencies have been pushing for better cybersecurity in its majority-privately held critical infrastructure industry.

US, British, and allied intelligence agencies warned about Volt Typhoon Wednesday. Microsoft said the group was using Fortinet’s FortiGuard devices to hack critical infrastructure organizations in Guam.

Marc Burnard, whose company Secureworks has dealt with several Volt Typhoon intrusions, said Secureworks had seen no evidence of destructive activity but that its hackers were focused on stealing information that would “shed light on U.S. military activities.”

Joyce of the NSA said Volt Typhoon was preparing for disruptive attacks.

“It’s clear that some of the entities on here are of no intelligence value,” he said of government-identified critical infrastructure sites.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters that the Five Eyes alerts were meant to promote their intelligence alliance, and Washington was the hacker.

“The United States is the empire of hacking,” Mao said.

About News Team

Hi, I'm Alex Perez, an experienced writer with a focus on lifestyle and culture news. From food and fashion to travel and entertainment, I love exploring the latest trends and sharing my insights with readers. I also have a strong interest in world news and business, and enjoy covering breaking stories and events.

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