Beijing probably targeted Taiwan with cyber operations to help the pro-China opposition Kuomintang win a swathe of midterm elections across the island, according to a leading U.S. cybersecurity company. Fred Plan, senior analyst at FireEye, told the Nikkei Asian Review that while his firm is still investigating possible attacks that occurred ahead of last Saturday’s vote, experience shows that China conducts cyber espionage in Taiwan, especially ahead of major political events. “Elections are typically preceded by an increase in cyber operations targeting Taiwan and we expect this to be the case again,” Plan said. “Taiwan has always been a primary target of malicious cyber operations, especially from actors aligned with the People’s Republic of China.” “I’d be very surprised if China wasn’t doing that” in the recent elections, he added.
The elections saw President Tsai Ing-wen’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s share of the 22 cities and counties on the island slump to six from 18 — a major blow to her prospects for re-election in 2020. The biggest surprise, however, was the sudden massive swing in the DPP’s southern bastion of Kaohsiung to little-known Kuomintang candidate Han Kuo-yu.
Before the elections, Tsai and her administration had been suggesting that China had interfered during the campaign. In recent speeches and on Facebook posts, Tsai has said that fake news from outside of Taiwan hurt the island’s democracy and influenced elections.