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DOJ Blocks Chinese Effort to Hack US-Based Routers with Malware

On Wednesday, the Department of Justice announced that it had successfully halted an attempt by Chinese hackers to target American infrastructure with malware attacks.

According to ABC News, the court-authorized operation successfully dismantled a massive botnet by removing the malware that had been planted within the U.S.-based victim routers, implementing additional safeguards to prevent future infections.

The hackers in question are part of a group known as “Volt Typhoon,” which is backed by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Speaking to Congress on Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray explained China’s attempts to attack “water treatment plants, our electrical grid, our oil and natural gas pipelines, our transportation systems.”

“The Volt Typhoon malware enabled China to hide, among other things, pre-operational, reconnaissance and network exploitation against critical infrastructure like our communications, energy, transportation, water sectors — steps China was taking, in other words, to find and prepare to destroy or degrade the civilian critical infrastructure that keeps us safe and prosperous,” Wray continued.

Such attacks, officials warned, could be used to disrupt Americans’ daily routines, and at worst could even hinder the U.S. military’s response in the event of a global emergency.

The “vast majority” of those impacted by the attacks, officials said, were those who owned Cisco and NetGear routers, which were more vulnerable to attack due to their age, which prevented them from receiving the latest security updates. These owners were, “by and large, every day American citizens and small businesses,” whose internet traffic was used by the hackers to conceal their activities.

With authority granted by a court, officials went into the routers and deleted the malware from every device, implementing new firewall rules to better protect them in the future. The FBI says it is currently contacting the owners of all impacted routers to confirm that they plan on updating their devices.

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About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). He is currently a co-host of The Right Take podcast.

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