China Seeks To Cause Panic With Cyber Attacks

China’s cyber infiltration strategy in the United States aims to create societal panic and disrupt everyday life, according to witness testimonies presented to Congress. During a hearing on the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) cyber threat, experts highlighted the Chinese military’s doctrine of inducing panic in their adversary through ransomware attacks and other cyber intrusions.

Jen Easterly, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, emphasized that the recent ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline in May 2021, which caused panic and disrupted gas supplies on the Eastern seaboard, was just a small-scale example of what could happen on a massive scale.

Easterly depicted a bleak scenario of a hypothetical cyber-attack, imagining scenarios where pipelines are disrupted, telecommunications fail, and water contamination causes public health crises, trains derailed, and air traffic and port control systems turmoil.

This portrayal was part of a broader hearing addressing the cyber threat from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which also featured testimonies from General Paul Nakasone, the Commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, Harry Coker, Jr., the director of the White House’s Office of the National Cyber Director and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

FBI Director Wray echoed the concerns raised by Easterly, emphasizing the need for Congress and the federal government to take further action to protect Americans from Chinese cyber threats. Wray also announced that the FBI had successfully eliminated a Chinese malware attack on small businesses located in the U.S.

He revealed that the operation had identified hundreds of routers compromised by the Chinese state-sponsored hacking group Volt Typhoon. This malware allowed China to conduct surveillance and exploit critical infrastructure in the communications, energy, transportation, and water sectors.

Highlighting the significant cyber disparity between China and the U.S., Wray noted that China has a much larger and well-funded cyber force dedicated to dominating the cyber realm. Even if the U.S. were to allocate all its cyber personnel to counter the Chinese threat, it would still be outnumbered by a ratio of at least 50-to-1.

To defend against these threats effectively, Wray emphasized the importance of involving the American public in cyber defense efforts, stating that only by working together can the government and the private sector protect against potential Chinese cyber-attacks.

General Nakasone added to the discussion by emphasizing the need to renew Section 702, a FISA Amendments Act of 2008 provision. He stated that Section 702 is crucial for the National Security Agency’s daily efforts to keep Americans safe and secure the nation.

Nakasone highlighted the agility of Section 702 in detecting and addressing threats, including the identification of Chinese chemicals used in the production of fentanyl. This dangerous drug has claimed the lives of over 100,000 Americans in recent years.