Cyber Official: ‘Great’ Blinken Will Have ‘Discussion’ with China on Their Ability to Attack Critical Infrastructure Because It’s Hard to Prevent

On Thursday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Jen Easterly stated that she’s “very concerned” about China’s ability to launch cyberattacks on American critical infrastructure and “it’s great” that Secretary of State Antony Blinken is going to China to “have an open and frank discussion about these issues,” because “It’s very, very hard to prevent these disruptions.”

Easterly stated, “We are very concerned, not just, frankly, about data theft and espionage, but the ability for China to hold the critical infrastructure that Americans rely on every day at risk. And so, it’s great that we’re seeing the Secretary of State go there and have an open and frank discussion about these issues, because we just published a report three weeks ago with our federal partners and international partners about Chinese intrusions into our critical infrastructure. And this, of course, is very consistent with what we’ve heard from the intelligence community. I think every American should read the annual threat assessment that talks about aggressive cyber operations against our critical infrastructure, because we need to understand the threat, how formidable this adversary is. It’s very, very hard to prevent these disruptions. So, we need to be resilient, we need to be prepared to deal with it, and ensure that every business puts the measures in place so we can operate even in the face of disruption.”

She added, “So, if you look at the annual threat assessment, as I mentioned, it specifically talks that Chinese cyber threat actors are capable of disrupting critical infrastructure like oil and gas pipelines — you remember, of course, Colonial pipeline in the summer of 2021 — and transportation and rail. And the idea would be, in the event of a conflict, China would use aggressive cyber operations to delay military deployment, to affect military decisions, and to induce societal panic. And so, we’re very concerned about ensuring that we can continue to have safe and secure water, that we can dispatch first responders, that we can get gas to the pump, that we can get health care to patients. And so, we really want to make sure that businesses take the steps they need to take to drive down risk and to build resilience.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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