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By Chahak Mittal
Tue | May 23, 2023 | 12:17 PM PDT

The deepening geopolitical tensions between China and Taiwan have cast a dark shadow over East Asia, triggering a marked rise in cyber attacks on the island nation. As the strain between China's territorial claims and Taiwan's determination to maintain its independence grows, a concerning surge in malicious activities has emerged, targeting various sectors. In a recent report, the Trellix Advanced Research Center has shed light on the alarming escalation of cyber attacks, emphasizing the need for organizations to closely monitor geopolitical events to anticipate potential threats.

A surge in malicious activities

According to the Trellix Advanced Research Center, cyber attacks against Taiwan have increased significantly in recent months. The attacks encompass a wide range of tactics, including malicious emails, phishing lures, malware delivery, and data exfiltration attempts. This surge in malicious activities highlights the evolving nature of the tensions between China and Taiwan, which have extended into the cyber realm.

Impacted industries

The targeted sectors during a four-day period between April 7 and April 10, 2023, included networking, manufacturing, and logistics, all of which play critical roles in Taiwan's economy. These industries, essential for the country's infrastructure and international trade, have become primary targets for cyber adversaries seeking to exploit vulnerabilities and gain unauthorized access to sensitive information.

The threat landscape

One of the notable malware strains identified during this period is PlugX, a remote access trojan that has been employed by Chinese threat actors since 2008. PlugX enables attackers to assume control over compromised machines, allowing them to execute arbitrary malicious code undetected. Additionally, the research also highlighted the presence of other malware families such as Kryptik trojan, Zmutzy stealers, and FormBook, all of which have been implicated in cyber espionage and data theft activities.

The role of geopolitical conflicts

Geopolitical conflicts have increasingly become a driving force behind cyber attacks in recent years. As witnessed in the case of Taiwan, tensions between nations have a direct impact on the cyber threat landscape, as state-sponsored threat actors exploit the situation to further their agendas. The escalating tensions between China and Taiwan have provided the backdrop for a surge in cyber attacks, underscoring the crucial role of monitoring geopolitical events to anticipate and prepare for potential cyber threats.

The importance of vigilance

In light of the current landscape, organizations operating in countries affected by geopolitical conflicts must remain vigilant and proactive in their cybersecurity measures. Monitoring and analyzing geopolitical developments can serve as an early warning system, allowing organizations to better predict and mitigate cyber attacks. By staying informed and implementing robust security measures, businesses can enhance their resilience against the evolving threat landscape and safeguard their critical assets and operations.


The escalating geopolitical tensions between China and Taiwan have triggered a worrying surge in cyber attacks targeting Taiwan. The recent report by the Trellix Advanced Research Center highlights the increasing sophistication and frequency of these attacks, emphasizing the need for organizations to monitor geopolitical events and take proactive measures to enhance their cybersecurity defenses. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, it is crucial to recognize the close interplay between geopolitical dynamics and cyber threats, ensuring that nations and organizations alike are prepared to navigate this evolving landscape with resilience and vigilance.

This post appeared originally on Chahak Mittal's Medium blog.