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FBI Chief: Chinese Hackers Poised for US Infrastructure Assault

Photo : AFP

FBI Director Christopher Wray has issued a stark warning, cautioning that Chinese-linked hackers are strategically positioned to launch attacks on critical US infrastructure when deemed opportune. Speaking at the 2024 Vanderbilt Summit on Modern Conflict and Emerging Threats, Wray underscored the urgency of federal efforts to thwart this imminent danger.

During his address at the Nashville event, Wray emphasized China's aggressive tactics, portraying the nation's cyber espionage as a multifaceted assault on American society. He highlighted China's ambition to dominate the global stage and its willingness to target essential sectors to achieve its goals.

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Wray particularly singled out China's interest in potential crisis scenarios, notably referencing a potential conflict between China and Taiwan by 2027. He indicated that China's strategy involves not only economic espionage but also the theft of intellectual property, technology, and research from vital American industries, including numerous pipeline operators.

"The fact is, the PRC’s targeting of our critical infrastructure is both broad and unrelenting," Wray emphasized. "It’s using that mass, those numbers, to give itself the ability to physically wreak havoc on our critical infrastructure at a time of its choosing."

Illustrating the gravity of the situation, Wray recounted a cyberattack orchestrated by Chinese-affiliated hackers, which targeted infrastructure controls rather than financial data. This incident, occurring in a mere 15 minutes, underscored the sinister intentions behind the attack, suggesting a potential for severe disruption beyond mere economic gain.

In response to these looming threats, law enforcement, military, and intelligence agencies are intensifying collaborative efforts to bolster defenses against such attacks. Wray emphasized the importance of proactive engagement between private companies and federal authorities, stressing the value of early communication to enhance preparedness and response capabilities.

This warning echoes Wray's previous cautionary remarks during a House Select Committee session in February, where he highlighted the vulnerability of critical infrastructure sectors, including the electrical grid, oil and gas pipelines, transportation systems, and water treatment plants, to potential cyberattacks orchestrated by Chinese-linked hackers.

April 19, 2024 2:41 p.m. 4289

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