Taiwanese government sites disrupted by hackers ahead of Pelosi’s trip

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Several Taiwanese government-run websites were disrupted by Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks hours before US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the first senior US official in 25 years to visit the country.

Chang Tun-Han, spokesperson for Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, said around 5 p.m. local time on Tuesday that the website of the president’s office was hit by an “overseas DDoS attack” that caused increase traffic levels to 200 times their normal size. .

The spokesperson said the websites were restored 20 minutes after the attack began, but as of Tuesday afternoon EST, the president’s English website only displays the word ‘OK’ in the top corner left.

Besides the attacks on the president’s website, experts noted that the websites of the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the country’s largest airport, Taiwan Taoyuan International, were also affected.

The websites of the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were accessible Tuesday afternoon EST, but the Taiwan Taoyuan International website was still unresponsive.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to requests for comment.

Zhang Dunhan, another spokesman for President Tsai Ing-wen, said in a statement that government agencies “will continue to strengthen surveillance to maintain national information and communication security and the stable operation of key infrastructure. as she faced “continued complex information operations by outsiders.” forces.”

On Friday, Chinese leader Xi Jinping warned US President Joe Biden that Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan was a violation of the country’s “one China” policy.

“Those who play with fire will perish by him. It is hoped that the United States will be lucid about this,” Xi reportedly told Biden, according to a transcript the Chinese Foreign Ministry provided to Reuters.

pelosi landed in Taiwan on Tuesday morning and issued a statement denying that the trip violated China’s rules.

“Our visit is one of many congressional delegations to Taiwan – and it in no way contradicts long-standing US policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, the joint US-China communiqués and the six assurances “, said Pelosi.

“The United States continues to oppose unilateral efforts to change the status quo.”

The Chinese army piloted 20 military aircraft in Taiwan airspace about an hour after Pelosi’s plane landed.

Johannes Ullrich, dean of research at the SANS Institute, said in a blog post on Tuesday that his team was seeing a “slight increase in scans of ‘harmful vulnerabilities’ like Word Press from Chinese consumer IP addresses” before the Pelosi’s visit.

“Not much at this point. Monitor and be prepared for a DDoS attack. In particular, if your website or business has greater visibility in China or is associated with the US government (this includes contractors, related organizations, and news sites reporting the visit).

Ullrich said he didn’t consider the DDoS on the president’s website to be a “huge” attack and added that it was “probably within reach of a few hacktivists getting together.”

“A more organized ‘government-sponsored’ DDoS attack would likely involve tools like ‘Great Cannon’ (sometimes also called the Red Ion Cannon) which can harness much greater attack power,” he said, warning defenders to be ready for DDoS. attacks if their website or business “has higher visibility in China or is associated with the US government (this includes contractors, related organizations, and news sites reporting the visit)”.

Jonathan has worked around the world as a journalist since 2014. Before returning to New York, he worked for news outlets in South Africa, Jordan and Cambodia. He previously covered cybersecurity at ZDNet and TechRepublic.

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