The United States is trying to find malicious computer code placed, according to Washington, by China at the heart of networks controlling critical infrastructure for the American army, assures Saturday the New York Times.
This computer breach, known since May, is deeper and more worrying than initially estimated, according to army officials and American intelligence interviewed by the daily. “It’s a ticking time bomb,” summed up a parliamentary source in New York Times.
A program to hinder troop movements?
The United States fears that hackers linked to Beijing have installed a computer program intended to be activated in the event of an armed conflict, for example around Taiwan, according to the newspaper.
If the malicious code has not been detected in classified computer systems according to the same source, Washington is concerned that it will disrupt, once started, the electricity, drinking water and communication networks supplying US military bases, which could impede troop movements.
Sources cited by the New York Times also consider another theory, according to which the Chinese hope with a disruption of American infrastructure that the citizens of the United States are too focused on this internal problem to pay attention to a conflict outside their borders.
The extent of the breach not yet known
In late May, US and allied cybersecurity agencies accused a Chinese-sponsored “cyber actor” of infiltrating US “critical infrastructure”, allegations firmly denied by Beijing.
Microsoft had indicated that the group behind it, Volt Typhoon, had been active since mid-2021 and that it had targeted, among other things, critical infrastructure on the island of Guam, which hosts a major US military base in the Pacific Ocean.
After more than a year of work, US officials still do not know the full extent of the breach, according to the New York Times SATURDAY.
Beijing on the move
Western countries are increasingly worried about Beijing’s maneuvers in cyberspace. In mid-June, a subsidiary of Google had reported that a group of cyberattackers, visibly linked to the Chinese state, was responsible for a vast computer espionage campaign targeting in particular government agencies of several countries representing a strategic interest for Beijing. .
The choice of targets was directly related to “high priority issues for China, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, including Taiwan”, noted Mandiant, Google cybersecurity specialist.