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Taiwan fended off China's cyber attacks on eve of presidential inauguration

National Center for Cyber Security Technology led cyber defense against Chinese hackers

(Getty Images photo)

(Getty Images photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An intense cyber war reportedly took place across the Taiwan Strait on the eve of President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) swearing-in on May 20, as she embarked on a second term.

A spike in cyber attacks from China was detected on May 19, targeting computer systems of the state-run oil refiner CPC Corp. Such activities are traditionally expected around the day of Taiwan’s presidential inauguration, which is intended to cause disruption to society through compromising government agencies, infrastructure facilities, and financial institutions.

The incident triggered an emergency response from Taiwan’s cybersecurity entities on the Cabinet level, leading to a series of self-defense measures. The counter-effort was spearheaded by the National Center for Cyber Security Technology, with IT experts from the private sector.

They ultimately warded off attacks from China, reported Liberty Times. Cabinet officials dismissed reports the incident involved defensive action by a so-called “national cybersecurity team,” but acknowledged the severity of the threat posed by the Chinese cyber army, according to the report.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs has listed CPC as a key player in Taiwan’s infrastructure services. This mandates putting in place a comprehensive information security strategy.

In early May, CPC and privately-owned Formosa Petrochemical Corp. fell victim to malware attacks that saw the two companies' electronic payment and income computation systems temporarily compromised. IC backend service provider and chip packing company Powertech Technology also reported a ransomware attack days following the incidents.