State-sponsored cyber attacks from China have become far more common in recent years, but it’s not just Taiwan in the firing line. The implications for global semiconductor supplies could be critical
An island population cut off from the world when its communication lines are suddenly severed sounds like the plot of a dystopian thriller. But that was the reality for 14,000 people in the East China Sea this February.
The Matsu islands are part of Taiwan, but when their internet access suddenly disappeared earlier this year, Taipei’s backup system could only restore 5% of the bandwidth the cables had provided.
Amid rising tensions with China, this may well be a sign of things to come. Concerns have also been raised about what might happen if Taiwan’s 14 remaining international sea cables were unexpectedly put out of action.
And that’s not the only threat. Interrupted access to the internet is bad enough, of course, but cyber attacks can bring far greater disruption. A recent Fortinet study reports that Taiwan is the target of 15,000 cyber attacks every second, with manufacturing, IT and logistics among the most heavily affected industries. Given that 90% of the world’s advanced microchips, as used in smartphones and data centres, are made in Taiwan, successful cyber attacks could result in large-scale, global shortages. That could leave businesses worldwide facing the same kind of reality as the people of Matsu did; missing vital communication links.