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[ISN] Taiwan claims upper hand in hackers' war with rival China


By Annie Huang 
Associated Press Writer
May 8th, 2007 

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) - Taiwan's advanced computer technology helps the 
military fend off hacker attacks in continuing virtual skirmishes with 
rival China, a military official said Tuesday.

Chinese hacker offensives, mostly carried out by sending e-mails with 
destructive programs, are a daily threat for the Taiwanese military, 
said Maj. Gen. Chai Hui-jen, the Ministry of Defense's senior computer 
security specialist.

"We receive massive amounts of e-mails everyday, many attached with 
Trojan horse ... programs, which are found to have connections to either 
Beijing or Hong Kong," she told a ministry news conference.

However, the island's status as one of the most advanced computer makers 
in the world helps it cope with the onslaught, she said.

Taiwan "is superior in technical skills to the mainland," she said in 
reference to the country's advantage in electronic warfare.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war, and computer hacking 
is part of the low-level conflict that persists between the two sides.

Taiwanese officials believe Beijing would try to cripple Taiwanese 
computer systems as a prelude to a real attack.

The mainland has threatened an attack if Taiwan moves to formalize its 
de facto independence.

Taiwan's computer security was called into question last month when 
Chinese hackers breached a computer used by a Taiwanese military 
official and obtained a seating chart at a planned military exercise to 
be attended by President Chen Shui-bian and other senior officials.

The Defense Ministry says the breach occurred because an official 
downloaded the seating chart to his home computer, where the 
government's normally high computer security standards were not in 

The ministry has since stepped up its efforts to police the downloading 
of classified information to personal computers.

Chai said military computers are equipped with a special system to 
isolate them from other computers and are well protected from hackers.

"We've closely monitored the hacking activities to ensure the security 
of our military command systems," she said.

Chai acknowledged that in the event of war with Beijing, Taiwan would 
also try to hack into Chinese computers, but declined to give details.

She said Taiwanese law permits the military to draft civilian computer 
experts if hostilities break out, but expressed the hope that such a 
move would never be necessary.

"We hope (computer) attacks can be reduced so everyone can freely 
utilize cyberspace," she said.

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