In the first seven months of 2023, Taiwan was on the receiving end of nearly 225 billion cyberattacks, corresponding to around 15,000 attempted breaches per second.
This was a key finding in a report
released last week by FortiGuard Labs, the research section of cybersecurity company Fortinet, according to Taiwan News
. Compared with 2022, cyberattacks on Taiwan soared by more than 60 percent, making it the top target in the Asia-Pacific, accounting for some 55 percent of all exploits in the region.
While Fortinet’s report focused on trends in the volume of cyber-exploits, its findings highlight the worrying weakness of Taiwan’s data protection infrastructure, making it highly vulnerable to external attacks, especially those coming from its giant, territorial neighbor.
In October 2022, Taiwan’s Department of Household Registration, under its Ministry of Interior, suffered a major data breach
, which leaked the data of more than 23 million Taiwanese citizens. Some of these data included names, addresses, and ID numbers. The information would later go up for sale online for around US$5,000, according to a report from CommonWealth Magazine.
Though some officials tried to brush the leak aside
, saying that the information leaked was outdated, hackers released data from 200,000 citizens to demonstrate that their cyberhaul was genuine.
A few months later, last January, senior officials at the country’s National Health Insurance Agency (NHIA) were put under investigation
for allegedly leaking troves of data to unknown parties in China from 2009 to 2022.
While the NHIA eventually found that personal data had not been leaked, many raised concerns
that these breaches may be part of a larger campaign by China to infiltrate — and potentially even take control of — Taiwan’s cyberspace. According to a 2022 report
by Digital Societies Project, Taiwan has for a decade been the world’s number one target of foreign disinformation, the vast majority of which originate from China
Given the country’s weak cybersafety measures, disinformation campaigns can quickly slide into hacking, as was apparent last year, when several websites
and digital signages
were hijacked ahead of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit.