Taiwan: Taiwanese government websites attacked during Pelosi’s visit

Major Taiwanese government websites were temporarily taken offline by cyberattacks suspected of being linked to China and Russia during US President Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island, Taipei said on Thursday.

The websites of the presidential office, the foreign office and the government’s main English portal were attacked on Tuesday night when Pelosi arrived for a historic visit that enraged Beijing.

China, which once claims to seize democratic self-governing Taiwan as part of its territory, launched its largest-ever military drills around the island on Thursday in response.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry also said its website was offline for an hour around midnight Wednesday due to a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.

A DDoS is a simple disruption attack that overloads a website with requests for information. It does not involve hacking.

According to the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the attacks on its website and the government’s English portal were linked to Chinese and Russian IP addresses that attempted to access the websites up to 8.5 million times per minute.

“As cyberattacks by hostile foreign forces may still occur at any time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to remain vigilant,” spokeswoman Joanne Ou told reporters on Thursday.

The presidential office said it would strengthen its oversight in the face of “hybrid information warfare by outside forces.”

Taipei has accused Beijing of stepping up cyberattacks since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen, who views the island as a sovereign nation and not part of China.

Officials said Taiwan government agencies deal with around five million cyberattacks and investigations a day.

In 2020, Taiwanese authorities said Chinese hackers infiltrated at least 10 Taiwanese government agencies and gained access to around 6,000 email accounts in an attempt to steal data.