U.S. Defense Department: Chinese Communist Party is a “Step-by-Step Threat” as Cyber Attacks Escalate

Earlier this month, a malicious cyber attack on the Colonial Pipeline Company, the largest fuel pipeline in the United States, caused the company to shut down the pipeline, causing panic and gasoline shortages in several U.S. states. The U.S. government is responding to the possible impact of such cyber attacks, the White House signed an executive order on the subject, and Department of Defense officials stressed that the Chinese Communist Party is “a threat on the horizon” in the cyber arena.

U.S. Department of Defense: Chinese Communist Party is a “step-by-step threat”

“For the U.S. Department of Defense, the Chinese Communist Party is a step-by-step threat, including in the area of cyber operations.” Mieke Eoyang, deputy assistant secretary of defense for cybersecurity policy, said at a U.S. House Armed Services Committee hearing on cybersecurity on May 14.

Mieke Eoyang revealed at the hearing that the Biden administration is reviewing two key documents: the National Security Strategy Report and the U.S. National Cybersecurity Strategy, to comprehensively enhance the U.S. defense system in the field of cyber offense and defense level.

In recent months, a number of major cyber attacks have occurred in the United States. Late last year, SolarWinds Corp, which helps manage the U.S. government’s network systems and information technology, was hacked by the Chinese Communist Party; in March, Microsoft email software was hacked by the Chinese Communist Party; in May, Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline in the United States, was attacked by a “malicious ransom In May, Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S., was attacked by a “malicious ransomware virus” that led to an emergency shutdown of the entire fuel pipeline system.

“Cyberspace is the ultimate gray area, and operations in this area are difficult to categorize as traditional or non-traditional activities. So adversaries like the Chinese Communist Party, Russia, or non-state actors continue to exploit this gray area to attack the vulnerability of the United States in cyberspace.” U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-N.Y., said.

Ouyang Yuan said the Chinese Communist Party uses cyber attacks to steal U.S. intellectual property, scientific research, and also conduct malicious cyber information dissemination operations.

“In addition to using cyberspace to attack the war effort, the Chinese Communist Party and Russia are using the Internet as a tool to control and intimidate their own people.” Mieke Eoyang said that in contrast to the U.S., which advocates a free and open Internet space that is safe and secure, “the CCP and Russia use technology to create a digital authoritarian model that involves manipulating narratives, limiting freedom of expression, and monitoring citizens. The CCP has also exported digital authoritarianism to other repressive regimes.”

Ouyang Yuan said four countries – China, Russia, Iran and North Korea – are the main adversaries the U.S. is guarding against in its cybersecurity policy. She also mentioned, without specifically naming them, that “certain countries” condone or cover up the fact that hackers engage in cybercrime for their governments. This, she criticized, “should not be the behavior of a responsible power.”

Army General Paul Nakasone, commander of the National Security Agency’s Cyber Command, analyzes the escalating trends in cyber operations in recent years during the hearing. (Video screenshot)

Cyber Operations Escalation

“(Cyber warfare) is no longer simply about guessing passwords or fraudulent emails online ……,” said Army General Paul Nakasone, commander of the National Security Agency’s Cyber Command, during the same hearing to analyze There has been an escalation in the field of cyber warfare in recent years. He mentioned the hacking of SolarWinds Corp. and Microsoft, in which cyber attackers exploited flaws in commercial software to spy on U.S. government cyber vulnerabilities.

Chung said these cyber attacks against the United States mainly want to achieve three things, “they are stealing U.S. intellectual property; they are also looking for and stealing U.S. personally identifiable information, whether it is passwords, social security numbers, or e-mail; they also want to further interfere (with U.S. society) and affect the U.S. electoral process or the operation of the U.S. economy …….”

In response to questions from U.S. lawmakers, Chung stressed that cyber attacks from U.S. adversaries “are ongoing!”

White House Signs Cybersecurity Executive Order to Strengthen Competitiveness with China

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on May 12 to strengthen federal cybersecurity capabilities, aimed at enhancing the cyber defense capabilities of U.S. federal agencies.

The executive order establishes a series of digital security standards and verification models for federal agencies and contractors that develop software for the federal government, aimed at preventing cyber attackers from exploiting software weaknesses to break into the U.S. government.

Biden said at the White House on the 13th that in addition to improving cyber security, he would also push for modern infrastructure to meet competition with China.

“Last night I signed an executive order to improve the nation’s cybersecurity, and we’ve seen critical infrastructure shut down due to floods, fires, storms, or attacks by cyber criminals. In Texas, last month we saw the damage caused by storms to power systems that were not fully modernized or prepared for the potentially catastrophic consequences of extreme weather.” Biden said, “Now we’re seeing how criminal hackers are disrupting pipelines throughout the (U.S.) Southeast. We are competing with China to win the economic race of the 21st century, and we can’t win with 20th century infrastructure. We need to modernize our infrastructure.”

The Colonial Pipeline Company (Colonial Pipeline), which was attacked, began work on restarting the pipeline on the afternoon of May 12, but it will take several days for the delivery supply chain to return to normal. Biden urged Americans not to panic.