The FBI is more preoccupied than ever with Chinese malware

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The FBI has reiterated its ‘laser-focus’ on stamping out the efforts of Chinese state actors to hack into and destabilise American infrastructure.

The Financial Times (paywall) reported on comments made this week by the FBI’s director, Christopher Wray, who also claimed that the law enforcement agency had thwarted recent attempts by the Chinese state to disrupt the US’ utility infrastructure, under the guise of a hacking network known only as Volt Typhoon.

Wray spoke specifically about how the proliferation of malware is making operations like Volt Typhoon all the more common. According to him, computing hacking is the latest means of the Chinese government placing “offensive weapons within our critical infrastructure, poised to attack whenever [it] decides the time is right.”

The specter of foreign espionage

Wray also warned that Volt Typhoon and other similar organizations weren’t just aiming to disrupt US industry, but other targets worldwide.

Though claiming that the Chinese government’s cyber espionage activities had reached fever pitch, Wray also said that he believed that the US drive to raise awareness of the threat was working, with citizens “increasingly attuned to the threat compared to several years ago.”

Governments worldwide were also, he claimed, increasingly aware of the problem. In October 2023, the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network, comprising the US and Canada along with several European and Oceanic governments such as the UK, Australia and New Zealand, held its first meeting on the topic.

Wray said that he believes European countries are diverting more resources to tackling the problem, and that ‘they’ were ‘all mov[ing] in the same direction’.

The specter of AI

Wray claimed that developments in the artificial intelligence field would allow it to act as a “force multiplier” that would “accelerate” the Chinese government’s efforts in time.

Until then, he believes that staying focused on Chinese cyberespionage amid other international developments such as the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Palestine wars is key, because even if ‘it doesn’t have the kind of immediacy that full-on military conflict has’, it’s still ‘every bit as big a crisis’.

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Luke Hughes
Staff Writer

 Luke Hughes holds the role of Staff Writer at TechRadar Pro, producing news, features and deals content across topics ranging from computing to cloud services, cybersecurity, data privacy and business software.