Yesterday, senior officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “China’s Non-Traditional Espionage Against the United States: The Threat and Potential Policy Responses.”
As per a senior U.S. intelligence official, in recent months, cyber activities by China in the United States has increased significantly. These activities includes probes and intrusions into U.S. critical infrastructure in what may be attempts to lay the groundwork for future disruptive attacks.
“You worry they are pre-positioning against critical infrastructure and trying to be able to do the types of disruptive operations that would be the most concern,” said Rob Joyce, an official from the National Security Agency at a Wall Street Journal cybersecurity conference.
Joyce, who was a former White House cyber adviser for President Donald Trump, did not elaborate any further.
According to a spokeswoman for the NSA, Joyce was referring to the cyber attacks against the U.S. financial, energy, healthcare and transportation sectors.
These comments assume significance since as of now, Chinese hacking activity has so far been constrained to espionage and intellectual property theft, and not disruption of critical infrastructure.
Incidentally, China has denied repeatedly that it conducts cyber attacks.
Incidentally, the remarks coincide with U.S. prosecutors preparing to unveil a new round of criminal hacking charges against Chinese nationals, which could be as early as this week.
According to sources familiar with the matter at hand, the charges are related to Chinese hackers who were involved in a cyber espionage operation known as “Cloudhopper” which targeted technology service providers and their customers.
The U.S. Congress is looking into the allegations of increased Chinese hacking activity.
Significantly, senior officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department have testified on Wednesday at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “China’s Non-Traditional Espionage Against the United States: The Threat and Potential Policy Responses.”