FBI director Christopher Wray warns Chinese hackers lying in wait to attack US infrastructure: ‘Upon us now’

FBI director Christopher Wray warns Chinese hackers lying in wait to attack US infrastructure: ‘Upon us now’

Chinese-linked hackers have snooped around critical US infrastructure and have put themselves in a position to attack at “the right moment,” FBI director Christopher Wray ominously warned.

Speaking at the 2024 Vanderbilt Summit on Modern Conflict and Emerging Threats, Wray underscored that the bureau and other federal authorities have been scrambling behind the scenes to counter the threat, which he said is “upon us now.”

“The PRC [People’s Republic of China] has made it clear that it considers every sector that makes our society run as fair game in its bid to dominate on the world stage,” Wray claimed.

FBI director Christopher Wray has issued similar warnings about China before. ZUMAPRESS.com

“[China’s] plan is to land low blows against civilian infrastructure to try to induce panic and break America’s will to resist.”

The FBI director surmised much of that cyber burrowing by the Chinese Communist Party stemmed from its “aspirations to wealth and power.” 

He caveated that it is difficult to determine how much of the pre-positioning was done to deter the US from protecting Taiwan.

Specifically, Wray suggested that China is interested in having countermeasures in place for a “crisis between China and Taiwan by 2027.”

Like many top US officials, Wray argued that China has aggressively worked to pilfer “intellectual property, technology, and research” from virtually every major American industry, including 23 oil pipeline operators.

“The fact is, the PRC’s targeting of our critical infrastructure is both broad and unrelenting,” he said. “It’s using that mass, those numbers, to give itself the ability to physically wreak havoc on our critical infrastructure at a time of its choosing.”

Wray cited an example in which the Chinese-tied hackers conducted a cyberattack that appeared to target infrastructure controls rather than financial data.

The FBI director said that Chinese-linked hackers outnumber the bureau’s cyber personnel. AFP via Getty Images

“It took the hackers all of 15 minutes to steal data related to the control and monitoring systems, while ignoring financial and business-related information, which suggests their goals were even more sinister than stealing a leg up economically,” the director explained. 

To combat China’s cyber infiltration schemes, top law enforcement, military, and intelligence agencies are collaborating to uncover and thwart those attacks.

“We’ve seen the best outcomes in situations where a company made a habit of reaching out to their local FBI field office even before there was any indication of a problem because that put everyone on the same page and contributed to the company’s readiness,” he said. 

President Biden has sought to warm icy relations with China and pushed for ‘managed competition’ with the fellow superpower. REUTERS

Earlier this year, Wray issued a similar warning to lawmakers during a House Select Committee on China hearing.

Wray warned that Chinese-tied hackers had their sights set on the electrical grid, oil and natural gas pipelines, transportation systems, American water treatment plants, and more.

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