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Report: China Already Hacking into U.S. Utilities, Pipeline, Port Companies

Preparing to create disruption in event of conflict.

China's threat to America now includes schemes to disrupt power and water supplies, communications and even transportation systems, according to officials cited in a new report.

Experts quoted by the Washington Post explained that hackers linked to China's People's Liberation Army already have succeeded in breaching "the computer systems of about two dozen critical entities over the past year."

The goal, the report describes, is to find ways to "sow panic and chaos or snarl logistics in the event of a U.S.-China conflict in the Pacific."

Those in a bull's-eye already include a water utility in Hawaii, a port along the West Coast and an oil and gas pipeline, those experts told the publication.

"The hackers also attempted to break into the operator of Texas’s power grid, which operates independently from electrical systems in the rest of the country," the report noted.

The report, citing anonymous sources, said there also were several targets outside the United States.

The report noted no industrial controls so far have been disrupted, but the fact that Hawaii has been targeted suggests the intent to impact America's operation of its Pacific Fleet, such as shipping troops or equipment.

The report said there previously were reports of a "Volt Typhoon" campaign being conducted against the U.S.

"It is very clear that Chinese attempts to compromise critical infrastructure are in part to pre-position themselves to be able to disrupt or destroy that critical infrastructure in the event of a conflict, to either prevent the United States from being able to project power into Asia or to cause societal chaos inside the United States — to affect our decision-making around a crisis," charged Brandon Wales, who is with the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

"That is a significant change from Chinese cyber activity from seven to 10 years ago that was focused primarily on political and economic espionage."

An official with the National Security Agency said in the report Volt Typhoon activity is focused on "indo-Pacific region" targets.

Joe McReynolds, of the Jamestown Foundation, explained the hackers are trying to uncover a way to get into the computer systems without detection.

The report noted the Office of the Director of National Intelligence already has admitted the China is capable of delivering cyberattacks that would create disruption for America.

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