Taiwan boosts cyber defences against threat from China

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Taiwan’s ruling party is bolstering its cyber defences after hacking attacks that have raised fears
that groups linked to the Chinese government plan to influence elections.
The Democratic Progressive party has boosted spending on online protection after the large-scale
breaches over the past two years. Hackers accessed the party’s website and staff computers, stole
data and modified content.
Relations between China and Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a renegade province, remain tense.
Beijing has frozen official communications with Taipei since the DPP took power last year,
replacing the more China-friendly Nationalist party, or Kuomintang.
The party and government agencies say they continue to be hit by hacking attacks from the
mainland. Concerns are growing that tactics similar to those used by Russia to influence last year’s
US election may be employed by China against Taiwan ahead of local polls scheduled for 2018.
“We are really aware that this may happen to us as well,” Yang Chia-liang, DPP spokesperson, told
the Financial Times. “We are worried the Chinese government will try to target Taiwan and
influence our elections.”
Mr Yang added that the party had started hiring outside companies to monitor network security
and provide staff with additional training to protect their work.
Since last year’s election, cyber attacks have targeted the party, government agencies and private
businesses, according to FireEye, a cyber security company with public and private sector clients
on the island.
“What we’ve been seeing is that they are very actively targeted, and that many of the attack groups
that are targeting them are based in mainland China,” said Bryce Boland, the group’s chief
technology officer for Asia-Pacific.
Mr Boland said the hackers had built the capacity to “launch attacks to compromise victims in
order to steal information to fuel an influence operation”, citing evidence that visitors to the DPP
website had been profiled.
“China-based threat groups have all the technical know-how to pull off a Russian-style hack and
leak operation,” he said.
Lennon Yao-chung Chang, a criminology expert at Australia’s Monash University, said he would
“be surprised if China is not using similar tactics” to those employed by Russia.
Official statistics on the number of attacks, the exact locations they come from and the parties
responsible are classified. Mr Boland and Mr Chang both said it was difficult to attribute an attack
to a specific state actor.

Period13 Nov 2017

Media contributions

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Media contributions

  • TitleTaiwan boosts cyber defences against threat from China
    Degree of recognitionInternational
    Media name/outletFinancial Times
    Media typePrint
    CountryTaiwan
    Date13/11/17
    DescriptionTaiwan’s ruling party is bolstering its cyber defences after hacking attacks that have raised fears
    that groups linked to the Chinese government plan to influence elections.
    URLhttps://www.ft.com/content/ff7690ba-c067-11e7-b8a3-38a6e068f464
    PersonsLennon Chang