China Hacks Critical U.S. Infrastructure in Guam, Preparing for Taiwan Attack
Computer hackers backed by the Chinese government have compromised key telecommunications infrastructure on Guam and elsewhere in the United States, according to a May 24 advisory issued by Microsoft.
A Chinese cyberespionage outfit called “Volt Typhoon” has worked since mid-2021 to “disrupt critical communications infrastructure between the United States and Asia,” Microsoft said. The hackers used code called “web shell,” a toxic script that grants remote access to servers. This enabled them to infiltrate systems related to construction, communications, education, government operations, maritime activity, manufacturing and electric and gas utilities. U.S. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said on May 25 that the Navy “has been impacted” by the Chinese cyberattacks.
Once the hackers had compromised a given system, Microsoft said their goal was to “maintain access without being detected for as long as possible.”
At present, the attack appears limited to an espionage campaign. But the bulk of the targeted systems have little value related to spying, suggesting that the purpose is not to observe but to destroy.
There’s not a clear connection to intellectual property or policy information that we expect from an espionage operation. That leads us to question whether they’re there because the targets are critical. Our concern is that the focus on critical infrastructure is preparation for potential disruptive or destructive attack.
—John Hultquist, head of threat intelligence at cybersecurity firm Mandiant
Microsoft’s advisory said the nature of the “web shell” code means even though elements of the assault have now been discovered, “detecting and mitigating this attack could be challenging.” And the nature of this malicious code means that once it is embedded, the hackers need only to “flip a switch” and it will carry out destructive assaults.
Microsoft said the overarching purpose of the campaign is to cripple America’s ability to communicate and respond during “future crises.” And the primary future crisis the Chinese Communist Party is preparing for is the conquest of Taiwan.
Since the U.S. territory of Guam is home to key ports and a massive American air base, it would be a centerpiece in any American military response to an attack on Taiwan. So China has planted code that it aims to activate when it moves on the island nation. If successful, such a strategy would leave Taiwan to face the Chinese alone—a fight the Taiwanese would quickly lose if they chose to engage at all.
The threat of such cyberattacks also extends well beyond Taiwan and Guam, with grave implications for the very foundations of American defenses.
On several occasions, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has written on the perils of the U.S. military’s dependence on computer systems that are vulnerable to enemy sabotage. In a January 1995 Trumpet article, he quoted analyst Joseph de Courcy, who called this dependence “the Western world’s Achilles’ heel.” This was a reference to the nearly invincible hero of Greek mythology who was vulnerable only on his heels.
“America is the greatest superpower this world has ever known,” Mr. Flurry wrote. “But we have a very vulnerable point in our military—our own Achilles’ heel.” This vulnerability “is so dangerous that I am amazed it hasn’t received more publicity” (ibid).
Mr. Flurry said de Courcy’s warning about this weakness reminded him of a Bible prophecy recorded in Ezekiel 7. The chapter’s first three verses show that God is addressing “the land of Israel” in the time of “the end,” which means mainly the U.S. and Britain in the modern era. (You can prove this by studying our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.)
Ezekiel 7 describes a future time when God will chasten these countries for their “abominations” and their disdain for His law and authority (verse 8). Verse 14 describes one aspect of that chastisement: “They have blown the trumpet, even to make all ready; but none goeth to the battle: for my wrath is upon all the multitude thereof.”
Mr. Flurry labeled this an “alarming” scripture. It is about a future era when U.S. military technology will be compromised by enemies. “It seems everybody is expecting our people to go into battle, but the greatest tragedy imaginable occurs!” Mr. Flurry wrote. “Nobody goes to battle—even though the trumpet is blown! Will it be because of a computer terrorist?”
Isaiah 59 gives more details about the same future time of chaos and conflict. In verses 9 and 10, the people of America and Britain are shown to be stripped of vision: “[W]e wait for light, but behold obscurity; [we wait] for brightness, but we walk in darkness. We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.”
This passage is true in a spiritual sense: The U.S. and Britain are already in spiritual darkness and blindness. But it may also have a specific physical fulfillment. After computer networks of vital government institutions and agencies are infiltrated by hackers from China and other enemy countries, the computer-dependent population would be in the dark. Pilots and other military personnel—not just those based in Guam but throughout the military—would be flying blind.
In the June 1999 issue of the Trumpet, Mr. Flurry again discussed the U.S. military’s dangerous vulnerability to cyberattacks, writing, “We could lose the next war before we even begin.”