This week, United States officials revealed finding suspected Chinese malware across several military systems, supposedly created to disrupt military operations.
According to reports, the malware attacks came into the public eye in May after Microsoft found malicious code in telecommunications software in Guam, where Andersen Air Force Base is located.
Speaking to the New York Times, U.S. officials said that investigations into such malware were underway in the past months. Upon investigation, officials found that the code infiltrated American military systems domestically and abroad.
“The recent reports of Chinese malware being found in U.S. military systems should serve as a wakeup call for our leaders in Washington, ” said Jake Denton, research associate in the Tech Policy Center at The Heritage Foundation.
“For too long, our country has neglected to meaningfully enhance our cyber defenses, making us vulnerable to potentially devastating cyber-attacks from adversaries like China. The consequences of such an attack would reach far beyond minor inconveniences and pose a real risk of disrupting our way of life,” he added.
Experts say the new type of code can interrupt U.S. military and civilian operations. Yet, experts who spoke to the New York Times said it was unclear if the Chinese government knew about the malware or how well the software operated.
At an Intelligence and National Security Summit early this month, deputy director of the National Security Agency (NSA), George Barnes, said China is “steadfast and determined to penetrate our governments, our companies, our critical infrastructure.”
While visiting Chinese diplomats in July, Sec. of State Antony Blinken raised the issue of Chinese hacking and malware. Speaking to CNN, a Senior State Department official said that the agency has “consistently made clear that any action that targets U.S. government, U.S. companies, American citizens, is a deep concern to us and that we will take appropriate action to hold those responsible accountable and the secretary made that clear again.”
Asked about the issue regarding Chinese malware in American military systems, National Security Council’s spokesman, Adam Hodge, told the New York Times that the Biden administration is “working relentlessly to defend the U.S. from any disruptions to our critical infrastructure, including by coordinating interagency efforts to protect water systems, pipelines, rail and aviation systems, among others.”
In Congress, lawmakers in the House of Representatives and Senate continue to investigate the issue of the Chinese government’s influence on American culture, economics, and technology. This week, the U.S. congressional committee on China found asset management corporations BlackRock, index provider MSCI, and many others from facilitating investments into blacklisted Chinese companies.
“It is time for our country to get serious about protecting our cybersecurity before it is too late,” Denton said.