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Hearing Wrap Up: U.S. Should Strengthen Efforts to Deter and Defend Against Evolving Cyberthreat from China

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The Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Information Technology, and Government Innovation recently held a hearing titled “Red Alert: Countering the Cyberthreat from China,” where members discussed the increasing sophistication and coordination of CCP-sponsored hacking efforts, particularly the Volt Typhoon campaign targeting U.S. critical infrastructure. Expert witnesses emphasized the urgent need to address the threat by replacing outdated IT systems that serve as vulnerable access points for hackers to infiltrate both public and private sector entities across America.

Federal intelligence agencies have issued warnings confirming China’s intrusion into America’s critical infrastructure in preparation for potentially disruptive cyberwarfare. William Evanina, Former Special Assistant to the President and White House Cybersecurity Coordinator, highlighted the CCP’s unparalleled capabilities and intentions as an adversary, pointing out the various cyber breaches, surveillance, and penetrations into critical infrastructure that have been widely documented. He stressed the need for action to address the vulnerabilities created by China’s influence on America’s supply chain and other strategic areas.

The evolving threat landscape demonstrates a shift from rudimentary to highly efficient cyber operations by Chinese hacking collectives. Rob Joyce, Former Special Assistant to the President and White House Cybersecurity Coordinator, emphasized that these attacks on critical infrastructure are not mere incidents of cybercrime or espionage, but deliberate strategies by the Chinese government to undermine the peaceful world order. The increasing frequency and sophistication of these attacks require a robust defense strategy to safeguard national security.

One of the main avenues used by Chinese hackers to infiltrate U.S. critical infrastructure is obsolete and legacy IT systems. However, the White House has yet to develop a comprehensive plan to mitigate these infiltrations from China, as acknowledged by Mr. Evanina during questioning by Subcommittee Chairwoman Mace.

Chairwoman Mace raised concerns about monitoring and thwarting the Volt Typhoon hacking efforts aiming for undetected infiltration of critical computer systems. Delegate Moylan, who provided a unique perspective due to Guam’s proximity to China and presence of key U.S. military installations, emphasized the urgent need for policy measures to enhance America’s cyber defense operation.

In response to the challenges posed by outdated IT systems and vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure, experts emphasized the importance of investing in cybersecurity resources, removing obsolete hardware, and prioritizing the modernization of cyber infrastructure. The collaborative efforts of government, private sector entities, and targeted organizations are essential in combating the evolving cyber threats posed by China.

Overall, the hearing underscored the critical importance of addressing the growing cyberthreat from China and implementing proactive measures to strengthen America’s cyber defenses and protect its critical infrastructure from malicious intrusions. By prioritizing cybersecurity investments and modernization efforts, the nation can effectively mitigate the risks posed by sophisticated hacking campaigns orchestrated by adversarial entities like China.

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