Taiwanese military reports DDoS in wake of Pelosi visit
Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense website was down for almost an hour last week after being targeted by a DDoS attack. It was not the only major government website to be targeted with those of President Tsai Ing-wen, the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the country’s largest airport, Taiwan Taoyuan International also experiencing downtime.
While it’s not clear where the attacks originated from, their timing coincided with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s arrival in Taiwan which only serves to add fuel to ongoing diplomatic issues between Taiwan and China.
Just before the cyber attacks, China had sent 27 aircraft into the Taiwan air defence identification zone and conducted live-fire exercises by the sea in six zones around the country to show their disapproval of Pelosi’s visit.
But although China is the easy suspect in the attacks, John Hultquist, the vice president of intelligence analysis at the cybersecurity company Mandiant notes that the DDoS attacks could be the work of hacktivists.
“While state-sponsored hackers do sometimes conduct DDoS attacks, such attacks are also often the calling card of hacktivists. It is a way that nationalists of any background can express themselves. It doesn’t necessarily indicate any kind of broader coordination or any state actor,” Hultquist explained.
Hultquist admits that while China’s state hackers have carried out DDoS attacks in the past, they’re currently far more likely to conduct cyber espionage.
A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack which occurs when hackers overwhelm a website with fake traffic causing it to crash is considered by experts a minor attack compared to other types of attacks.
When describing the attack on the government websites, Doug Madory, the director of internet analysis at Kentik, a company that monitors website traffic said that the attack was big enough to be effective but not record-breaking.
International experts following the China-Taiwan saga will be hoping that the situation can be resolved amicably lest it turns into another Russia-Ukraine story. The implications of a physical war between Ukraine and Russia would be far-reaching.
When speaking on the matter, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo warned that losing access to Taiwan would likely cause a deep recession in the United States since 70 percent of America’s chips come from Taiwan.
However, China also stands to lose as much as anyone else since it only produces about 20 percent of the chips it uses.