Taiwan’s academic networks and intranets serving tertiary institutions and state research units and labs were the target of nearly 150 million attacks on a monthly basis between April and June, according to the island’s cybersecurity agency.
The top five sources of these attacks were the US, Russia, China, the Seychelles and France. It is believed that some Chinese hackers, arguably with the Chinese military’s cyber-warfare division, typically route their attacks via servers in third countries to conceal their origin.
The island is worried that top secrets about weapons development and trial, like Taiwan’s indigenous fighter trainer aircraft being developed by Academia Sinica, Taiwan’s national academy, as well as numerous other research and development programs commissioned by the military, could be leaked.
The heightened risk of theft of secrets and research information prompted Taiwan to launch a new cloud platform to boost cyberdefense in October.
The platform, developed in partnership between the National Applied Research Laboratories and the National Center for High-performance Computing, deploys a security layer of more than 6,000 honeypots for detecting cyberattacks around the clock, according to the Central News Agency.
A web of honeypots is a computer security mechanism set to detect, deflect, or even counteract attempts at unauthorized use of information systems. A honeypot consists of data isolated and monitored in a way designed to deceive and ultimately block attackers.
The platform will help monitor the crucial Internet system backbone used by 4,000 schools, universities and academic institutions island-wide, and will produce monthly and quarterly reports for the Ministry of Science and Technology to review.
The platform’s capability to analyze the origins and routes of the attacks is further enhanced by the island’s supercomputer Taiwania 2, which started commercial operations last month.
Equipped with a computing capacity of 9 quadrillion floating-point operations per second (9 petaflops), Taiwania 2 was ranked the 23rd most powerful supercomputer in the latest TOP500 Supercomputer List released in June.
The operators of the platform also worked with the Executive Yuan’s National Information and Communication Security Taskforce to build the gaming platform for the first Taiwan-US cyberoffensive and defensive exercises hold last month, with more than 10 other countries participating.
The inaugural Taiwan-US cyberexercises contained a three-day simulation portion, which saw a red team made up of foreign and Taiwanese specialists launch simulated attacks on the servers and websites of Taiwanese government and financial institutions, while a blue team of Taiwanese experts were pitted against the red team to fend off attacks, with the help of the new cloud platform to identify a cyberattack’s origin.