TAIWAN: Cyber attacks are a growing global threat and a number of countries are now focusing on the mounting threat of cybercrimes, Taiwan being at the forefront amid China's military pressure and crippling cyberattacks.
Taiwan's head of cybersecurity told CNN Business this month that it is using dramatic measures to guard against technological vulnerabilities -- including employing roughly two dozen computer experts to deliberately attack the government's systems and help it defend against what Taiwanese authorities estimate are some 20 million to 40 million cyberattacks every month.
Taiwan says it has been able to defend against the overwhelming majority of attacks. Successful breaches number in the hundreds, while only a handful are what the government classifies as "serious."
But the enormous number -- and where Taiwan thinks they're coming from -- has compelled the government to take the issue seriously, according to Chien Hung-wei, head of Taiwan's Department of Cyber Security, reported CNN.
"Based on the attackers' actions and methodology, we have a rather high degree of confidence that many attacks originated from our neighbor," he told CNN Business, referring to mainland China.
"The operation of our government highly relies on the internet," Chien said. "Our critical infrastructure, such as gas, water and electricity are highly digitized, so we can easily fall victim if our network security is not robust enough."
President Tsai Ing-wen at the time declared cybersecurity a matter of national security. This May, she announced the creation of a new digital development ministry, which will supervise the information and communication sector with a focus of protecting critical infrastructure, according to Taiwan's official Central News Agency.
In an exclusive interview with CNN last month, Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu accused China of using military intimidation, disinformation campaigns and cyberattacks to undermine the Taiwanese population's trust in their own government.
Taiwan and mainland China have been governed separately since the end of the Chinese Civil War more than 70 years ago. While the Chinese Communist Party has never ruled Taiwan, Beijing considers the island to be an "inseparable part" of its territory and has repeatedly threatened to use force if necessary to prevent the island from formally declaring independence.
In recent years, China has stepped up its military pressure on Taiwan. In June, the country sent over two dozen warplanes near the island, prompting Taiwan to alert its air defenses.
That was the largest number of warplanes sent to that zone since Taiwan began keeping records of such incursions last year. Beijing has also released military propaganda warning Taipei to "prepare for war" as it establishes stronger ties with the United States, reported CNN.
Experts have voiced concerns not just about the prospect of military warfare, but cyber warfare, too. Moreover, China was accused by the West earlier this week of launching a massive, global hacking campaign.
On Monday, the United States, the European Union and other allies accused China's Ministry of State Security of using "criminal contract hackers" to carry out malicious activities around the world, including a campaign against Microsoft's Exchange email service in March.
Earlier this month, US-based cybersecurity company Recorded Future alleged that a Chinese state-sponsored group has been targeting the Industrial Technology Research Institute, a Taiwanese hi-tech research institution.
Recorded Future said it found that Chinese groups have been targeting organizations across Taiwan's semiconductor industry to obtain source codes, software development kits and chip designs. It based its claims on evidence it compiled using a method called network traffic analysis, which examines such traffic to detect security threats.