Taiwan Blames China For Cyberattacks, Bans Chinese Apps

Tech cold war continues as Taiwanese officials warn that hacking groups linked to the Chinese government are responsible for attacking at least 10 government agencies.

And now the Taiwanese government has announced it is preparing to ban iQiyi and Tencent from operating streaming video services on the island.

The warning from Taiwan mirrors similar warnings from other nations. In June for example Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister of Australia, confirmed his country was the target of a “sophisticated” cyber attack, and said an unnamed foreign government was behind it, with the finger of suspicion firmly pointed at China.

Chinese hackers

Now this week Taiwan has said China is targetting it, with Chinese hacking groups hitting roughly 6,000 email accounts of government officials in an “infiltration” to steal important data.

“Chinese hacking groups have been infiltrating government agencies and their information service providers for a long time,” the deputy director of the Taiwan Investigation Bureau’s Cyber Security Investigation Office, Liu Chia-zung, was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Taiwan also urged its people to be alert for what officials call “omnipresent infiltration” from China, including Beijing-backed media campaigns as well as cyberattacks.

“They were aiming to acquire important government documents and data,” Liu told reporters. “Some government data might have been leaked. This has posed a great threat.”

The attacks started as early as 2018 and targeted at least 10 government agencies and the email accounts of some 6,000 officials, Liu’s office said. Officials warned they had not been able to identify what data has been stolen as the hackers had concealed their tracks.

Among those who were attacked and infiltrated by two Chinese hacking groups were at least four Taiwan tech companies that had been providing information services to the government, the office was quoted as saying.

Government data

According to Reuters, Liu said Taiwan believed the two hacking groups involved, Blacktech and Taidoor, who were backed by the Chinese Communist Party.

These hacker groups targeted loopholes in the systems provided by the Taiwan government’s information service providers, he said.

Government agencies should increase scrutiny of their providers, Liu warned.

He said his office was investigating service supply chains to see if any Taiwan companies or individuals have worked with the Chinese hackers.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office did not respond to a request for comment, but the Chinese government routinely denies involvement in hacking.

Meanwhile the Taiwanese government is preparing to ban Chinese services, iQiyi and Tencent from operating streaming video services on the island.

Tencent Video and iQiyi have been “operating illegally” in Taiwan by partnering with local broadcasters and distributors to provide their video content through streaming services, according to a government notice published online Tuesday, and reported on by CNN.

India, the US and other nations are also banning Chinese products and services.

China itself regards Taiwan as a renegade province and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control.

Earlier this month cyber-crime sanctions were imposed by the European Union on individuals and organisations in Russia, China and North Korea.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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