Wray gives testimony on the risk presented by cyber attackers from China.

Chinese Government-Backed Hackers Targeting U.S. Infrastructure, Warns FBI Director

In a congressional hearing on the cybersecurity threat posed by China’s government, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that hackers supported by the Chinese government are targeting critical infrastructure systems in the U.S. This strategic positioning within vital infrastructure systems could lead to real-world harm for American citizens and communities.

Wray emphasized the need for more public attention on the fact that Chinese hackers are actively targeting critical infrastructure in the U.S. He stressed that this poses a significant risk to every American and requires immediate attention.

The FBI, along with other national security officials, including Jen Easterly, who leads the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, are testifying at the hearing. Wray stated that many of the systems that Americans rely on for daily tasks, such as oil and natural gas pipelines and transportation systems, are vulnerable to cyberattacks by Chinese hackers.

The Justice Department and FBI announced that they have disrupted a China-backed hacking operation known as “Volt Typhoon.” This operation, active since mid-2021, targeted critical infrastructure in the U.S. and other nations. Microsoft researchers had previously warned that it could disrupt critical communications infrastructure between the U.S. and Asia during future crises.

U.S. investigators obtained a court order to delete the botnet malware on infected routers and took measures to prevent future reinfection. This is a new tactic in the U.S. government’s cyber defense arsenal, as they remotely disabled the hackers behind the cyberattack.

The “Volt Typhoon” operation utilized botnets, which are networks of infected internet-connected devices that can be used to bring down sensitive targets. These hackers typically gain initial access through unsecured home routers or modems. The FBI determined that the best course of action was to conduct a technical operation to neutralize the botnet and prevent further targeting of U.S. entities by the Chinese government.

The U.S. government remains committed to dismantling malicious cyber operations, including those sponsored by foreign governments. This recent operation serves as a reminder of the ongoing threat posed by Chinese hackers and the need for continued vigilance in protecting critical infrastructure.  

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