China to escalate Taiwan cyberattacks ahead of local elections

Taiwan government preparing for rise in Chinese cyber attacks before Nov. 24 elections

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(Image courtesy of Max Pixel)

(Image courtesy of Max Pixel)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan is set to endure a fresh wave of Chinese cyberattacks in the lead-up to local elections set for November 24, according to a fresh Bloomberg report.

China, North Korea, and Russia may use Taiwan's upcoming local elections as a testing ground for interference against Western democracies, head of the Executive Yuan's Department of Cyber Security, Howard Jyan (簡宏偉) told Bloomberg.

"Based on matching patterns, sophistication and other characteristics it's likely that the majority of the cyber attacks come from groups supported by China," Jyan told Bloomberg. "We believe the number of cyber attacks will rise before the elections. Hackers and organizations will try to intervene."

Recent months have seen an increase in Chinese-led cyberattacks against Taiwan, with a prominent example being the hacking of ruling Democratic Progressive Party's website on July 3.

The Department of Cyber Security said in April that Taiwan is hit with more than 20 million cyber attacks every month, mostly from China.

The Taiwan government is cognizant of the China's growing cyber threat.

"We anticipate in the run-up to elections at the end of this year and continuing until the 2020 presidential elections Taiwan will become a global hotspot for cyber attacks and fake news," said a spokesperson for President Tsai-ing wen (蔡英文), told the Financial Times of London last July.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) recognized the potential of fake news to influence elections during a speech on Sept. 17, calling on the people of Taiwan to review and challenge fake news.

The Taiwan government has earmarked over NT$1.5 billion (US$48.36 million) to improve Taiwan's cyber defensive capabilities in the 2019 general budget.

The Department of Cyber Security has also set up a taskforce to improve knowledge and training of government officials to shield against cyber crime.

Taiwan News reported last month that China had refined its cyber capabilities during the Cambodian election on July 29.