During their testimony before legislators, the leaders of the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency highlighted the successful prevention of the Chinese government’s attempts to compromise vital infrastructure within the United States. They also cautioned that Beijing has been increasingly adept at infiltrating organizations, raising concerns about potential chaos if left unchecked.
FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and CISA Chief Jen Easterly appeared as witnesses before the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party on Wednesday. The primary emphasis of the evidence revolved around Beijing’s attempts to infiltrate critical U.S. infrastructure, such as gas and oil pipelines, electricity grids, bridges, and water delivery systems.
During his opening statements, Mr. Wray expressed concern about the potential actions of China. He emphasized that if China decides to launch an attack, their hackers are already positioned on American infrastructure, prepared to cause chaos and harm to American individuals and communities. In recent times, there seems to be a deliberate effort to erode our financial stability, with actions being taken on an almost daily basis. Our creativity, along with our corporate and personal data, is being taken away from us in significant amounts.
According to Mike Gallagher, a Republican from Wisconsin and committee chairman, there has been a concerning situation involving state-sponsored hackers from China. These hackers have allegedly been planting malware on infrastructure control systems for the past 20 years. The intention behind this malicious activity is believed to be the creation of chaos, confusion, and potential harm at the push of a button.
“This action can be compared to a highly destructive act, endangering American power plants, water treatment facilities, and bridges,” expressed Mr. Gallagher.
Mr. Wray highlights the lack of public awareness regarding China’s long-standing involvement in cyberespionage operations targeting the United States. He consistently emphasizes China as the FBI’s primary security concern.
He claims that China’s hacking capabilities are superior to those of any other adversaries of the United States, and that the Chinese cyberoperative community greatly outnumbers the FBI’s cybersecurity personnel.
“The Chinese Communist Party poses a significant challenge to our national security and economic stability,” stated Mr. Wray, emphasizing their destructive activities and multifaceted approach.
According to him, the FBI has recently initiated a focused effort to locate numerous routers that were compromised and controlled by Volt Typhoon, a well-known hacking group sponsored by a state. These routers covertly infiltrated both public and private networks in the United States, carrying out specific tasks to disrupt and undermine critical infrastructure.
According to authorities, the hack targeted naval ports, utilities, and ISPs.
According to Mr. Wray, China’s assault on US infrastructure networks is just a single aspect of a larger, purposeful effort to weaken the nation’s economic stability. One aspect of the operation involves the unauthorized acquisition of intellectual property from high-tech companies, as well as the unauthorized use of personal information from millions of Americans and government employees.
Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, selected by the House Republican majority following the 2022 midterm elections, highlights China’s significant rise as a dominant force in the cyber realm. Representative Krishnamoorthi holds a prominent position as the top Democrat on the select committee. According to his statement, there were attempts made by Volt Typhoon hackers to infiltrate the Texas power grid and gain control over several crucial infrastructure sites.
He claimed that China had a deliberate strategy to undermine American military preparedness and civic responsibilities, with the aim of eroding the enemy’s determination to engage in combat. According to Mr. Krishnamoorthi, if a cyberattack leads to physical harm or loss of life, the United States would have the inherent right to defend itself. “It is crucial that we are able to react promptly and with determination.”