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American Institute in Taiwan director stresses importance of cybersecurity cooperation

Sandra Oudkirk urges more bilateral collaboration amid rising cyber threats

AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk. 

AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Sandra Oudkirk on Monday (Dec. 4) highlighted the importance of bilateral cybersecurity cooperation.

Delivering a speech at National Taiwan University (NTU), Oudkirk said Taiwan and the U.S. need to do more to “effectively counter cybersecurity threats.” Cyberattacks are growing in scale and sophistication as cyber criminals adapt their strategies and tactics to disrupt networks, steal intellectual property, and conduct cyber espionage, she said.

Taiwan is a key partner in the global ICT supply chain and plays a major role in the network of undersea telecommunications cables, and it has become a prime target for cyberattacks from “hostile actors,” according to Oudkirk. The U.S. representative quoted Taiwan Minister of Digital Affairs Audrey Tang (唐鳳) as saying these activities are aimed at “disrupting day-to-day life” and “hollowing out democratic institutions.”

“We are working together to prevent and investigate cybercrime, to provide capacity-building training for Taiwan cyber professionals and policymakers, and to build bridges between U.S. and Taiwan industries,” she said.

Oudkirk also said combating the influence of online misinformation on democracies was another top priority. Foreign actors are using social media and other platforms “to manipulate public discourse, divide the public, sow discord, influence our elections, and essentially undermine confidence in our democratic institutions,” she said.

This threat is especially troublesome when it comes to democratic elections, Oudkirk added.

With Taiwan’s presidential election fast approaching, the director stressed that “the United States is not taking sides in Taiwan’s election, we do not have a preferred candidate, and we know very well that we do not have a vote.” America supports Taiwan’s “vibrant democracy” and is ready to work with whoever the Taiwanese elect in 2024, she said.