US Warns of Massive Chinese Cyberattacks in Taiwan Scenario




Washington — Any Chinese invasion of Taiwan will likely be accompanied by massive cyberattacks against the West and against the United States, according to a top U.S. cybersecurity official.

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly said Monday that Washington and its allies must be prepared for China to create ‘panic and chaos’ in cyberspace.

’A scenario of attacks against our critical infrastructure in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is unfortunately not far-fetched,’ Easterly told an audience at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

An invasion ‘might very well be coupled with the explosion of multiple gas pipelines, the mass pollution of our water systems, the hijacking of our telecommunication systems, the crippling of our transportation nodes,’ she added. ‘All designed to incite chaos and panic across our country and deter our ability to marshal military might and citizen will.’

U.S. intelligence agencies and military officials have warned China is actively preparing plans to be able to take Taiwan by force by 2027.

Still, Washington’s top intelligence official said earlier this month there is no indication Beijing wants to put those plans into action.

’We assess that China continues to preference a peaceful unification of Taiwan,’ Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said during an appearance in New York earlier this month.

But Haines indicated that preference may be waning.

’I think the challenge is that they are likely becoming increasingly pessimistic or skeptical that that is something they can achieve peacefully,’ she said.

Easterly warned Monday that Beijing’s potential preference for aggression, and its likely willingness to lash out in cyberspace, comes as China’s leadership increasingly takes a dim view of Russia’s ‘endless missteps’ in Ukraine.

’They’ve seen that Russia, probably for fear of escalation, held off on going after our critical infrastructure,’ she said. ‘I think that they’ll be less restrained.’

Despite considerable concern in the weeks and months before Russian forces invaded Ukraine last year, Moscow has, so far, largely held back from launching major cyber offensives against the West, concentrating most of its cyber activities against Ukraine and Ukrainian targets.

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In the minds of Chinese leaders, however, Russia’s restraint is a lost opportunity to weaken Western resolve, Easterly said.

’In the event that they [China] go after Taiwan, they’re going to want to make sure that they affect the unity that has been forged between the U.S. and our international partners, the unity that’s been forged within the U.S.,’ she said. ‘They’re already costing [us] in attacks against our critical infrastructure that will help them essentially by affecting the will of the American people.’

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