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Taiwan cracking down on Chinese cyberattacks: Security source

02/04/2023 08:52 PM
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Image from Pixabay
Image from Pixabay

Taipei, Feb. 4 (CNA) Taiwan's national security authorities have successfully cracked down on Chinese cyberattacks that recently posted information on the Facebook pages of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and former Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).

Speaking with CNA, a source with Taiwan's national security apparatus said it detected 825 Facebook accounts run by China's cyber army that have repeated large volumes of information against Taiwan's government on Tsai and Su's Facebook pages.

After analyzing the 825 accounts, the source said, security authorities determined they were part of China's cognitive warfare approach and were used to deride Taiwan's government for its close ties with the United States to oppose China.

Among oft-repeated comments from the accounts were "Taiwan wants to become ashes of war by acting like Ukraine to fight for the U.S." They also ridiculed the Tsai administration for biting off more than it can chew in siding with Washington against Beijing.

The source said one of the Chinese cyber army accounts identified itself as that of "Yanchun Song," who said he was running a media planning company in Liaoning province in northeast China.

After looking into the account, security authorities identified Song as the president of Dandong Bokai Advertisement Planning Co. (丹東博凱廣告公司) located in Liaoning, the source said.

The source said China has long used cyberattacks on Taiwan to disseminate misinformation through a step-by-step process in an attempt to manipulate public opinion in Taiwan.

According to the source, the first two steps in the model are for China's cyber army to create a false account to post information, and then use Facebook fan pages run by people overseas to share the information.

The third step is to use several dummy accounts to spread the information, and the final step is to share those accounts to Facebook groups commonly used by Taiwanese, hoping to create controversy and clicks and draw attention to the misinformation, the source said.

The model is aimed at brainwashing Taiwanese to achieve a goal set by China of defeating the enemy without having to use force, according to the source.

The source accused China's cyber army of using similar tactics and attacks during Taiwan's local government elections held in late November and said their next target could be the presidential and legislative elections in early 2024.

China's cyber army could try to exploit several issues ahead of those elections to try to convince Taiwanese that their government is doing a poor job and that war across the Taiwan Strait could break out soon, the source suggested.

Among the issues that could be exploited to cast the government in a bad light, the source contended, were bans on imports of Taiwan's agriculture and fishery products into China, Taiwan's wide wealth gap, China's military drills and expensive U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

They could even try to spread the idea that Washington will eventually abandon Taipei in a war with Beijing, said the source.

In a recent research, Academia Sinica's Institute of European and American Studies found that China's cognitive warfare against Taiwan was becoming more diverse, expanding from efforts to influence via mostly personal bilateral exchanges to web-based propaganda.

(By Yang Sheng-ju and Frances Huang)


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