Cyberwarfare against DPP reported peaking

By Yuan-Ming Chiao, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan–The nation’s main opposition party stated Monday that it was increasing its online security infrastructure following reports that state-backed Chinese hackers were carrying out cyberattacks to scour for sensitive political information.

Wang Min-sheng (王閔生), a spokesperson for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), told reporters that the party had been subjected to an increase of attacks lately including email-based and DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks. He added that the party was taking necessary precautions to increase security while increasing information security training for party cadres and officials. A Bloomberg report cited the security company FireEye Inc. yesterday as having identified Chinese hacker group “APT16” of conducting cyberinfiltrations of DPP staff emails. Those attempts, according to FireEye, were aimed at obtaining sensitive information on policies and speeches ahead of Taiwan’s national elections on Jan. 16, which the DPP is heavily favored to win.

Analysts of the security firm stated that demand for detailed information regarding the opposition party may serve as motives for the attacks. FireEye also claims that Taiwanese media have also been targeted by means of phishing emails under the subject heading “DPP’s Contact Information Update” (“民進黨通訊錄更新”). Responding to the report, Wang said that equipment from 50 staff members of the party had been attacked, adding that none of the attempts had been successful in uncovering sensitive information.

Wang did not say how many groups were involved or whether they were part of a coordinated attack. He stated that the attacks were most likely intended to disrupt the party’s homepage and inside information, adding that party secrets were not being transmitted via the Internet. Staff and officials were being advised to delete emails from unknown contacts especially ahead of the elections, Wang said.