Suspected Chinese malware has been identified in several US military systems.
Unlike other surveillance malware from China, this malware seems intended to disrupt operations.
The malware could also have the ability to disrupt normal civilian life or businesses.
US officials found suspected Chinese malware across several military systems — and unlike previous attacks, experts say the intent is likely to disrupt rather than to surveil, The New York Times reports.
The attacks first came into the public eye in May after Microsoft identified the malicious code in telecommunications software in Guam, where the US houses the Andersen Air Force Base.
US officials told the Times that investigations into Chinese malware had been underway for several months prior and that the malicious code has infiltrated US military systems across the country and abroad. Previous cyberattacks typically aimed to surveil US operations, experts told the Times.
“China is steadfast and determined to penetrate our governments, our companies, our critical infrastructure,” Deputy Director of the National Security Agency George Barnes said at the Intelligence and National Security Summit earlier this month.
Now, experts say this new wave of malicious code has the ability to disrupt US military and civilian operations.
Last month, Rob Joyce, the director of cybersecurity at the National Security Agency, called the nature of this malware “really disturbing.” According to the Times, it could allow China to cut off power, water, and communications to military bases, and it could also potentially impact personal homes and businesses across the country.
Additionally, according to experts who spoke to the Times, it is not clear whether or not the Chinese government knows about the malware, or how well the software could actually work.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken apparently raised the issue of Chinese hacking while meeting with Chinese diplomats earlier in July, according to reporting from CNN.
“We have consistently made clear that any action that targets US government, US companies, American citizens, is a deep concern to us and that we will take appropriate action to hold those responsible accountable and the secretary made that clear again,” said a senior State Department official of Blinken’s meeting.
In response to questions posed by the Times to the White House about the issue, National Security Council spokesman Adam R. Hodge said: “The Biden administration is working relentlessly to defend the United States from any disruptions to our critical infrastructure, including by coordinating interagency efforts to protect water systems, pipelines, rail and aviation systems, among others.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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