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Thwarting cyberattacks from China is DHS’s prime infrastructure safety precedence

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Combatting “cyber and different threats posed by the Folks’s Republic of China” (PRC) is a prime precedence for the Division of Homeland Safety (DHS) via the tip of 2025, in accordance with a guidance document the division launched final Thursday. The doc describes a “whole-of-society effort” to guard crucial infrastructure from exterior threats, and China is on the prime of the checklist.

Different priorities embody managing the “evolving dangers” of synthetic intelligence and different rising applied sciences, mitigating provide chain vulnerabilities, making ready for local weather change-related dangers to crucial infrastructure, and addressing dependency on satellite-based companies and communications.

“From the banking system to the electrical grid, from well being care to our nation’s water programs and extra, we rely on the dependable functioning of our crucial infrastructure as a matter of nationwide safety, financial safety, and public security,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas mentioned in a statement

Per the memo, the federal authorities and intelligence group see China as one of many greatest dangers to nationwide safety and are significantly involved about China’s skill and “willingness” to conduct cyberattacks on US infrastructure. The memo additionally warns about potential threats from “different malign ‘grey zone’ actions,” together with monetary investments, “conventional espionage,” and insider threats. 

This April, FBI Director Christopher Wray mentioned hackers linked to the Chinese language authorities had accessed critical US infrastructure and had been ready “for simply the suitable second to deal a devastating blow.” In a speech on the Vanderbilt Summit on Fashionable Battle and Rising Threats, Wray mentioned hackers with the cyber group Volt Typhoon had breached a number of American firms within the telecom, power, and water sectors.

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DHS established a China Working Group in 2020 to deal with the “intensifying menace” of China’s “malign exercise within the commerce, cybersecurity, immigration, and mental property domains,” then-acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf mentioned on the time. 

In 2022, DHS printed a “strategic motion plan” on combatting China’s threats to nationwide safety, every part from immigration violations to mental property rights violations. Motion objects included wanting into methods to increase commerce “with fledgling chip sectors and like-minded financial companions, together with India and Taiwan” and prioritizing efforts to guard US infrastructure from “malicious PRC cyber exercise.” And final yr, Mayorkas introduced a departmentwide 90-day “PRC Threats Sprint.” Just like the 2022 plan, the dash emphasised the necessity to defend crucial infrastructure towards potential cyberattacks, in addition to a dedication to utilizing DHS’s immigration enforcement equipment to determine “illicit vacationers” from China who come to the US to “accumulate intelligence, steal mental property, and harass dissidents.”

Congress has additionally turn into more and more hawkish on China. In 2013, the Home Homeland Safety Committee’s subcommittee on cybersecurity held a hearing on the threats China, Russia, and Iran posed to US infrastructure. The congressional effort to ban TikTok until it divests from its Beijing-based mother or father firm is essentially rooted in nationwide safety considerations. Earlier this month, the Home Committee on Homeland Safety advanced a bill that may block DHS from shopping for batteries from six Chinese language firms.

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