US officials recently disabled a pervasive Chinese hacking operation that compromised thousands of internet-connected devices, sources have said.
Western security officials and another person familiar with the matter said the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation sought and received legal authorization to remotely disable aspects of the Chinese hacking campaign.
Known as Volt Typhoon, the malicious cyber activity has alarmed intelligence officials who say it is part of a larger effort to compromise Western critical infrastructure, including naval ports in places such as Guam in the Pacific, plus internet service providers and utilities.
Such breaches could enable China, national security experts said, to remotely disrupt important facilities in the Indo-Pacific region that in some form support or service US military operations.
A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment. A spokesperson for the FBI and the Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
When Western nations first warned about Volt Typhoon in May, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said the hacking allegations were a “collective disinformation campaign” from the Five Eyes countries, a reference to the intelligence sharing grouping of countries made up of the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the UK.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard