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Taiwan accuses Chinese hackers of targeting its citizens’ data

The attackers were after government information and citizens’ personal data and have been making these efforts
The attackers were after government information and citizens’ personal data and have been making these efforts "for a long time", the deputy director of the Taiwan Investigation Bureau’s cybersecurity unit, Liu Chia-zung, said. (Pixabay)

Groups, likely backed by Beijing, infiltrated the systems of Taiwanese companies that provide information services to government bodies, the deputy director of the Taiwan Investigation Bureau’s cybersecurity unit, Liu Chia-zung, said. 

Taiwan accused Chinese hackers of infiltrating government agencies in an effort to glean citizens’ sensitive information, part of ongoing attempts to influence the democratic society.

Groups, likely backed by Beijing, infiltrated the systems of Taiwanese companies that provide information services to government bodies, the deputy director of the Taiwan Investigation Bureau’s cybersecurity unit, Liu Chia-zung, said at a briefing in Taipei on Wednesday. The attackers were after government information and citizens’ personal data and have been making these efforts “for a long time’, Liu said.

He identified four main groups of hackers, Blacktech, Taidoor, MustangPanda and APT40. While they had managed to gain access to government systems, Liu said investigators had been unable to identify what data has been stolen, other than a leak of some 6,000 government emails in one case, as the hackers had covered their tracks.

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The revelation comes as Taiwan, and its technology companies, have been caught up in the escalating struggle for global influence between the U.S. and China. The administration of President Donald Trump earlier this week expanded restrictions on suppliers to China’s Huawei Technologies Co., sending the shares of Taiwan-based chipmakers Mediatek Inc., Novatek Microelectronics Corp. and Realtek Semiconductor Corp. plunging.

The world’s largest contract chip manufacturer, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., has also come under pressure from the U.S. to halt sales to Huawei, although it has so far managed to shrug off the expected hit to its finances.

Sales of US military equipment, including F-16 fighter jets, and regular Chinese military incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone have raised concerns about the possibility of a conflict in the Taiwan Strait. China views Taiwan as part of its territory, a claim Taiwan’s government rejects.

Taiwan has long been wary of Chinese hackers’ attempts to infiltrate its systems. In the runup to January’s presidential election, the government’s director general of cybersecurity Jyan Hong-wei, estimated Chinese agencies attempted around 30 million cyberattacks against Taiwan a month.

Taiwanese investigators have probed around 10 cases of Chinese hackers targeting the government since 2018, Liu said Wednesday.

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