Taiwan’s presidential office went offline on Tuesday because of an alleged DDoS attack which also impacted other government websites.
Just hours before the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were to visit Taiwan, the DDoS attack took place. Apparently, the Chinese government felt threatened by the visit and perhaps, responded to the trip through the attack.
Taiwan even prepped itself against potential air strikes from China.
Chang Tun-Han, a spokesperson from Taiwan’s Presidential office confirmed that a DDoS attack took place, taking down the official government website along with it in a Facebook post. The website received over 200 times more traffic compared to the usual numbers, and the attack a hacker group outside the country was responsible for.
According to NBC News, a number of other Taiwanese government sites were also affected as a result of the attack, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of National Defense, and even the Taoyuan Internal Airport’s website, the airport where Pelosi’s plane landed.
However, as of now, all three websites are functional. Doug Madory, the director of Internet Analysis at traffic monitoring group Kentik said on Tuesday that his company managed to track down the DDoS attacks on each of the three websites and described the attacks as “effective even if they were not record-breaking.”
He also said the overall traffic of internet for the country seemed “pretty normal.”
The vice president of Intelligence Analysis at cybersecurity group Mandiant, John Hultquist said on Tuesday that his company had tracked an overall increase in Chinese threats as of late against Taiwan. It included two “Chinese information operations” changing tactics in order to spread fake information regarding the dangers of Pelosi’s visit.
“We anticipate that Chinese actors are also carrying out significant cyber espionage against targets in Taiwan and the U.S. to provide intelligence on the crisis.”
Although he didn’t point fingers at China for the DDoS attacks, Hultquist still warned that “on rare occasions, Chinese state actors have been linked to DDoS capability, destructive attack, and possible probing of critical infrastructure. Nonetheless, we believe China is capable of significant cyber attacks inside Taiwan and abroad.”
The director of the Strategic Technologies Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, James Lewis, on the other hand, downplayed the attacks. According to him the attacks were unlikely to be tied to the Chinese government and rather described them as “squeals of rage.”
“DDoS means it is ‘patriotic hackers,’ amateur Chinese hackers expressing their displeasure. Fairly normal stuff for Chinese netizens, doesn’t even need official encouragement.”
All in all, both spokespersons belonging to the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C. and White House respectively didn’t issue any statements regarding the attacks. The spokesperson for White House even refused to comment on whether the Biden administration was keeping an eye on the cyber threats being received by Taiwan or not.