China-based ‘Flax Typhoon’ hackers targeting Taiwan govt: Microsoft

Taiwan has long accused China – which claims the self-governing island as its territory – of espionage through cyberattacks on its government networks.

Microsoft said on Thursday that Flax Typhoon, “a nation-state actor based in China”, has primarily “targeted government agencies and education, critical manufacturing and information technology organizations in Taiwan” since mid-2021.

The observed activities suggest that “the threat actor intends to conduct espionage and maintain access to organizations across a wide range of industries for as long as possible,” the US tech giant said in a blog post.

“However, Microsoft has not seen Flax Typhoon act on the end objectives in this campaign.”

China has long vowed to take Taiwan — by force if necessary — and has stepped up military and political pressure on the island.

In addition to government agencies, Microsoft said Flax Typhoon has also targeted “critical manufacturing and information technology organizations in Taiwan.”

Outside of Taiwan, the company said there were some “victims” from the Flax Typhoon in Southeast Asia, North America and Africa.

Last month, Microsoft said China-based intelligence-seeking hackers had hacked into the email accounts of a number of US government agencies.

That hacking group – which Microsoft called Storm-0558 – mainly focuses on “espionage, data theft and access to credentials”.

The company also warned this year that state-sponsored Chinese hackers had infiltrated critical US infrastructure networks, saying it was likely intended to hinder the United States during a conflict.

Microsoft specifically mentioned Guam, a U.S. Pacific region with a vital military base, as a target.

Authorities in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Britain have also warned that Chinese hacking is likely to take place globally, affecting a wide range of infrastructure.

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