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Taiwan to put cyber defences to the test in drills with the US

TAIPEI — Taiwan is fortifying its defences against cyberattacks as it prepares for joint drills with the United States and more than a dozen other countries in November.

A Taiwanese government official said Vice-Premier Chen Chi-mai told a government meeting on cybersecurity last month that about 60 per cent of the roughly 30 million attacks the island experienced each month came from mainland China, with most targeting government agencies.

A Taiwanese government official said Vice-Premier Chen Chi-mai told a government meeting on cybersecurity last month that about 60 per cent of the roughly 30 million attacks the island experienced each month came from mainland China, with most targeting government agencies.

TAIPEI — Taiwan is fortifying its defences against cyberattacks as it prepares for joint drills with the United States and more than a dozen other countries in November.

Cabinet officials said on Monday (Sept 23) that various government and civilian agencies had upgraded their facilities and training to counter such mass intrusions.

A Taiwanese government official said Vice-Premier Chen Chi-mai told a government meeting on cybersecurity last month that about 60 per cent of the roughly 30 million attacks the island experienced each month came from mainland China, with most targeting government agencies.

“For this, the government has mapped out a five-year project to update facilities each year and to provide training for specialists, as well as drills to counter simulated attacks against the government, financial and major business sectors,” the official said.

In addition to setting up cyber units within government, a cybersecurity department within Taiwan’s National Security Bureau was working with civilian groups to tackle mass attacks on various sectors.

“Dealing with such attacks is like fighting a battle every day as many are in the form of APTs,” the official said, referring to “advanced persistent threats”.

APTs are typically state-sponsored groups that gain unauthorised access to a computer network and are not detected for a long time.

The official said that Taiwan would test its cyberwar defences during the Cyber Offensive and Defensive Exercises, which are to be held for the first time in November with the US and 13 other countries.

According to Brent Christensen, the de facto US ambassador in Taiwan, the exercises would be similar to the Cyber Storm drills conducted every two years by the US Department of Homeland Security to strengthen cyber preparedness in the public and private sectors.

Mr Christensen told a cybersecurity forum in Taipei on Tuesday that pernicious actors, including mainland China, were engaged in relentless attempts to steal Taiwanese and US trade secrets and intellectual property.

“Evidence indicates Chinese-backed cyberattacks on Taiwan’s technology industry were seven times greater in 2018 than in 2017, and they are on track to be 20 times greater in 2019,” he said.

“Historically, China has focused its attacks on Taiwan’s semiconductor industry, but it has now expanded its target list to include attacks on the smart machinery and electronic components industries.”

Mr Christensen said Beijing’s theft of Taiwan’s most valuable trade secrets was arguably an existential threat to the island’s industry, and even its future.

“The stakes are extremely high,” he said.

He said the November exercises would bring together “approximately 15 countries to address cyber threats from North Korea, social engineering, critical infrastructure vulnerabilities, and financial crimes”.

Taiwan’s Central News Agency quoted Mr Chen as saying that Taiwan would be the target of the attacks during the five-day exercises, with other participants from Asia, America and Europe.

He said the drills would be divided into two parts, with the first testing the response of government staff and officials to phishing emails or text messages, the most common form of cyberattack.

The second would test responses in the public and private sectors to cyberattacks from abroad and within Taiwan.

Mr Chen said the simulated attack would attempt to hack government websites, testing the capability of local cybersecurity teams to protect them. SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

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