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FBI Warns Chinese Hackers Targeting U.S. Physical Infrastructure

If every agency's cyber asset focused exclusively on China, they would still 'outnumber FBI cyber personnel by at least 50-to-1'

FBI Warns Chinese Hackers Targeting U.S. Physical Infrastructure

FBI Director Christopher Wray warned this week that hackers working for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) are targeting critical infrastructure and preparing to “wreak havoc” on the U.S.

Wray testified before the U.S. House Select Committee on the CCP and cautioned that there has not been enough public attention on the threat China poses to U.S. national security.

"China's hackers are positioning on American infrastructure in preparation to wreak havoc and cause real-world harm to American citizens and communities, if and when China decides the time has come to strike," Wray said. "They're not focused just on political and military targets. We can see from where they position themselves across civilian infrastructure that low blows are just a possibility in the event of a conflict; low blows against civilians are part of China's plan."

Chinese hackers have been on the radar of U.S. authorities for some time. Last year, U.S. defense officials were forced to admit that Chinese hacking efforts were more widespread than previously thought amid reports that the cyber hacking operation known as Volt Typhoon was targeting military facilities in Guam and the U.S.

The operation exploited vulnerabilities in normal, commonly used hardware and software, and allowed hacker activity to blend in with normal internet traffic.

Now, U.S. officials warn the scale of Beijing’s operations may dwarf counter-operations by federal authorities.

“To quantify what we’re up against, the [CCP] has a bigger having program than that of every major nation combined,” Wray told lawmakers. “In fact, if you took every single one of the FBI’s cyber agents and intelligence analysts and focused them exclusively on the China threat, China’s hackers would still outnumber FBI cyber personnel by at least 50-to-1.”

Wray was joined by other senior officials, including Jen Easterly, the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, who testified about the potential for real-world harm from China’s operations.

“This is a world where a major crisis halfway across the planet could well endanger the lives of Americans here at home through the disruption of our pipelines, the severing of our telecommunications, the pollution of our water facilities, the crippling of our transportation modes – all to ensure that they can incite societal panic and chaos and to deter our ability to marshal military might and civilian will,” she said.

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