FBI chief warns of Chinese hackers threatening US infrastructure

China denies involvement, attributing the campaign to a criminal ransomware group.

Flag of USA and China on cracked concrete wall background

FBI Director Christopher Wray issued a stark warning about Chinese government-linked hackers infiltrating critical US infrastructure, awaiting a strategic moment for devastating action. Speaking at Vanderbilt University, Wray outlined the ongoing Volt Typhoon hacking campaign, which has breached American companies in vital sectors like telecommunications, energy, and water, with 23 pipeline operators among the targets.

At the 2024 Vanderbilt Summit on Modern Conflict and Emerging Threats, Wray emphasised China’s evolving capability to inflict physical damage on crucial infrastructure at its discretion. The campaign’s intent remains elusive, though it aligns with China’s broader strategy to dissuade US intervention in Taiwan, a democratic territory claimed by Beijing.

China, which has never disavowed the use of force to assert control over Taiwan, denies any government involvement in Volt Typhoon, dismissing it as the work of criminal ransomware groups. The Chinese Embassy in Washington echoed this stance, accusing the US of politicising cybersecurity by attributing attacks to China and portraying itself as the victim.

Wray disclosed that Chinese hackers employ a network of compromised devices globally to obfuscate their activities, a tactic previously identified by private cybersecurity firms like Microsoft and Google. As tensions persist between the US and China over Taiwan and cybersecurity, the spectre of cyberwarfare looms large, underscoring the imperative for robust defences against digital incursions.