Chinese hackers are determined to 'wreak havoc' on U.S. critical infrastructure, FBI director warns


(L-R) FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats, in Washington, DC, on March 8, 2023.

Mandel Ngan | Afp | Getty Images

Chinese government hackers are busily targeting water treatment plants, the electrical grid, transportation systems and other critical infrastructure inside the United States, FBI Director Chris Wray will tell House lawmakers on Wednesday in a fresh warning from Washington about Beijing’s global ambitions.

Wray will say that that there’s been “far too little public focus” on a cyber threat that affects “every American,” according to a copy of prepared remarks that he is to give before the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party.

“China’s hackers are positioning on American infrastructure in preparation to wreak havoc and cause real-world harm to American citizens and communities, if or when China decides the time has come to strike,” Wray will say.

The comments align with assessments from outside cybersecurity firms including Microsoft, which said in May that state-backed Chinese hackers have been targeting U.S. critical infrastructure and could be laying the technical groundwork for the potential disruption of critical communications between the U.S. and Asia during future crises.

The following month, Mandiant said that suspected state-backed Chinese hackers had used a security hole in a popular email security appliance to break into the networks of hundreds of public and private sector organizations globally.

Wray and other senior U.S. officials have for years been sounding the alarm not only about the Chinese government’s hacking prowess but about Beijing’s determination to steal scientific and industrial research from American businesses. China has called those accusations groundless even as multiple criminal indictments have laid out detailed evidence.

“Today, and literally every day, they’re actively attacking our economic security, engaging in wholesale theft of our innovation, and our personal and corporate data,” Wray said.

The committee, chaired by Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, was established last year with a mandate of countering China, kicking off with a primetime hearing. The Chinese government has lashed out at the committee, demanding that its members “discard their ideological bias and zero-sum Cold War mentality.”



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