Follow Us

US discovers suspected Chinese malware inserted to disrupt military operations: report

China has been working to infiltrate U.S. systems with well-hidden codes for more than a year, over a dozen experts said.

Published: July 31, 2023 2:41pm

The United States is reportedly searching for malware it discovered that China is suspected of installing deep inside computer networks that control the water, power and communications systems that support the U.S. military domestically and abroad.

Over a dozen U.S. officials and industry experts said that China has been working to infiltrate U.S. systems with well-hidden codes for more than a year at least, The New York Times reported over the weekend.

A congressional official called the malware "a ticking time bomb" that could allow China to interrupt or slow U.S. troop deployments or resupply operations. 

A major concern is that China inserted the code to disrupt operations if a conflict ever occurs, including if Beijing attempts to invade the self-governing island of Taiwan.

Another theory is that the malware is meant to distract Americans while China launches an attack in another part of the world. A problem in U.S. infrastructure would capture the attention of Americans so they would not think about overseas conflict. 

The malware's effect may reach far beyond military operations. The same infrastructure used for military bases is often used in citizens' homes and businesses. 

National Security Council acting spokesman Adam Hodge did not directly address concerns surrounding Chinese malware, but said: "The Biden administration is working relentlessly to defend the United States from any disruptions to our critical infrastructure. ... The president has also mandated rigorous cybersecurity practices for the first time."

The Chinese embassy in Washington denied that Beijing was behind any wrongdoing.

"The Chinese government agencies face numerous cyberattacks every day, most of which come from sources in the U.S.," embassy spokesman Haoming Ouyang said. "We hope relevant parties will stop smearing China with groundless accusations."

Follow Madeleine Hubbard on Twitter or Instagram.

The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook

Just the News Spotlight