Chinese government-backed hackers have been infiltrating U.S. infrastructure systems for far longer than was previously known, CNN reported Wednesday, citing a new intelligence report.
Some key infrastructure hubs and industrial sector facilities have been secretly accessed by the Beijing-backed hackers for “at least five years,” according to the report produced by U.S. and Western intelligence services that was first seen by CNN. The U.S. government and intelligence networks have long warned of Chinese efforts to stage mass cyber-attacks on American soil.
The Chinese hackers first made their way into IT systems years ago and tried to use it as a gateway to access major hub systems that control power flow, energy, water and heating, according to the report reviewed by CNN. In one instance the hackers infiltrated network systems at a water facility and gained access to information on water treatment and wells.
If these systems are exploited or manipulated it could cause “significant infrastructure failures,” the report reads, according to CNN.
Beijing denies that it backs cyber attack efforts against the U.S.
On cyber security, false accusations and bloc confrontation will only jeopardize the collective response to the threats our world faces. pic.twitter.com/wWFwB8uYmt
— Spokesperson发言人办公室 (@MFA_China) February 7, 2024
China could prompt the hackers to exploit these infrastructure systems in a global crisis event, such as a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, according to the report reviewed by CNN.
U.S. officials said in January that they had taken steps to disrupt Chinese cyber attack efforts against IT systems and key infrastructure hubs, according to The Associated Press. FBI Director Chris Wray warned in a congressional hearing that month that the U.S. “cannot afford to sleep on this danger.”
“There has been far too little public focus on the fact that PRC [People’s Republic of China] hackers are targeting our critical infrastructure – our water treatment plants, our electrical grid, our oil and natural gas pipelines, our transportation systems,” Wray said. “And the risk that poses to every American requires our attention now.”
The report includes suggestions for private companies operating infrastructure hubs on how to counter hacking attempts, according to CNN.
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