Washington, Jan 31 (EFE). – United States authorities announced on Wednesday that they had dismantled a computer hacking network, allegedly linked to the Chinese government, that was aimed at spying on “critical infrastructure” in the United States and other countries.
Hundreds of small home and office routers installed across the United States had been hijacked by hackers working for the Chinese government and had to be dismantled throughout the operation, according to a statement from the US Department of Justice.
“China’s hackers are positioning themselves on American infrastructure in preparation to wreak havoc and cause real harm to American citizens and communities,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.
“If or when China decides it’s time to strike, they’re not focused solely on political or military targets,” he added.
The hacking group, known as “Volt Typhoon,” used a “botnet” – a zombie network – that relied on controlling malicious software hosted on computers without the owners’ knowledge, making it possible to hide the origin of the activity.
“The Volt Typhoon malware enabled China to hide, among other things, pre-operational, reconnaissance, and network exploitation against critical infrastructure like our communications, energy, transportation, and water sectors,” explained Wray.
A statement released by the US Department of Justice explained that the infected routers were vulnerable because they had reached “end-of-life” and were no longer receiving software updates from their manufacturers.
“I can assure the American people that we take cybersecurity very seriously,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said at a press briefing.
“Last year we published a new cybersecurity strategy and we always consider threats to critical infrastructure,” Kirby added.
The operation removed the malicious software from the affected computers and blocked communications with other devices used by the pirate network and, as detailed by the DOJ, the FBI is notifying the owners of the infected routers and urging them to replace the devices. EFE