May 31, 2023

China Cyber Crimes

Volt Typhoon likely was aimed at disrupting U.S. communications with Asia in the event of a conflict.

By Laurence F. Sanford

China’s cyber crimes are just one aspect of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) unrestricted warfare against the United States. “Cyber” refers to matters of the Internet and computers. Recently, Microsoft and intelligence agencies identified a Chinese computer malware code, “Volt Typhoon,” which appeared in communication systems in Guam and elsewhere in the United States. It likely was aimed at disrupting U.S. communications with Asia in the event of a conflict, such as the CCP invasion of Taiwan.

Volt Typhoon was initially discovered by Microsoft’s threat intelligence unit when “investigating intrusion activity impacting a U.S. port.” As Microsoft traced back the malware, it found other networks that were infected, including the communications sector in Guam.

Anne Neuberger, the Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology, is part of a relatively new U.S. government effort to quickly and publicly expose CCP cyberattacks so as to burn the operations and have American firms strengthen their cybersecurity efforts. In years past, the government would classify the attacks and thus keep the public unaware of cyberattacks. Ms. Neuberger is focusing on improving cybersecurity on critical infrastructure, including pipelines, rail systems, water systems, ports, and air travel.

Needless to say, the CCP denied the Volt Typhoon allegations. And needless to say, communists, as always, lie and deceive — never trust a communist. CCP Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning described the Microsoft report as extremely unprofessional. She added that it is a collective disinformation campaign of the Five Eyes coalition countries. The Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance between the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, with origins dating back to World War II. It has now broadened its cooperation to include Germany and Japan to cover CCP activities.

Guam in the Western Pacific is the home of key U.S. military assets, including Anderson Air Force Base and Navy Base Guam. It includes commands for nuclear submarines, ship repair facilities, Seabees, Coast Guard, and Naval Special Warfare. Approximately 1,700 miles from Taiwan, Guam would be a strategic asset in support of Taiwan in the event of a CCP invasion. China has DF-26 “Guam killer” ballistic missiles that can reach Guam from mainland China and take out U.S. Navy carrier task forces.

To counter the growing CCP threat of invading Taiwan, the bipartisan House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party recommended buying more long-range missiles, fortifying and hardening military bases, speeding up the delivery of military aid to Taiwan, and improving cybersecurity. If the CCP invades Taiwan, the U.S., the Philippines, and Japan will be dragged into the conflict whether they like it or not.

Jen Easterly, the Director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said it is “long past time for technology companies to build cybersecurity into their product design.” Unsafe technology in our computer systems is far more pervasive and dangerous than the spy balloon, yet we have allowed ourselves to accept it.

FBI Director Chris Wray said CCP cyber and espionage attacks have resulted in “one of the largest transfers of wealth in human history.” The CCP Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) military aircraft and ships bear striking resemblance to U.S. military equipment. The American crown jewel fighter aircraft, Lockheed Martin’s F-35, has a twin sister in the PLA’s Shenyang J-31. In 2009, it was discovered that the F-35’s sensitive and top-secret designs and electronics were compromised. (No names were cited as to who did the compromise, but we can reasonably assume it was the CCP).

The Chinese spy balloon recently shot down on the South Carolina coast after traversing across America and over military bases (it would circle the bases in figure eights) had two tons of surveillance electronics on board. President Biden, at the G-7 meeting in Japan, called it a “silly balloon” that changed the terms of China and the U.S. talking to one another. Biden initially said that no communications from the balloon were sent to China, but this has since been disproved. No clear explanation has been given for why the military allowed the balloon to traverse the country, as it was steered over military installations. No information about the nature of the surveillance equipment recovered has been disclosed to the public.

Google’s Mendiant Division researchers have found that the CCP has developed sophisticated and hard-to-detect techniques that allow them to burrow into government and business networks by compromising devices on the edge of the network. The CCP even compromises the firewalls. Mendiant has found bugs in the firewall companies Fortinet, SonicWall, and Citrix.

The CCP’s strategic deterrence is based on the triage of nuclear, cyber, and space capabilities. The United States strategy for national defense security is a triad of nuclear submarines, land-based missiles, and air bomber fleets. All three of America’s triad are underfunded with aging and poorly maintained equipment. Recruitment levels are plummeting. China’s triage is rapidly growing, well-funded, and new. China’s military does not divert resources and sap morale with CRT, transgender, and woke ideologies.

Chinese and American education systems both preach Marxism. The Chinese teach pride in their country and their culture. American Marxist education teaches that America is evil, capitalism is bad, and socialism is good. The Colorado teachers union recently adopted an anti-capitalistic polemic at its convention. America desperately needs school choice to get out from under the teachers unions.

The United States needs virtuous leaders who believe in America. Who believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Who believe America was conceived in liberty and that all men and women are created equal. Who believe our founding documents — the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights — are the foundation for our freedoms. Who believe this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. Who believe that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.

Laurence F. Sanford is a senior analyst at the American Security Council Foundation.

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