US officials probe Chinese malware on US military bases around world

Authorities are probing potential China-affiliated malware targeting US global military operations, hidden in networks that control their power grids and water supplies, according to a report.

Biden administration officials believe the malicious computer code could be hiding in the infrastructure that powers US military bases around the world, according to a Saturday New York Times report.

One unnamed official told the newspaper the malware, installed by Chinese hackers, is “a ticking time bomb” which could impair US military deployments by cutting off water, communications and power on US military bases.

The hackers’ reach could be much broader than the military operations because the same systems that supply infrastructure to military bases in the US often supply the homes and businesses of local residents throughout the country.

The first signs of the hacking emerged in May on the Pacific island of Guam, when Microsoft said it had detected a mysterious computer code in its telecommunications systems, the newspaper reported. Guam is the site of a large US air base.

Chinese flag and computer
Chinese malware has been detected in the infrastructure of US military bases.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Air Force Base, Guam
The Chinese malware was first noticed in a Microsoft hack at the Andersen Air Force Base in Guam in May.
HUM Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The discovery of the malware has resulted in a series of Situation Room meetings in the White House with senior officials from the National Security Council, the Pentagon, Homeland Security Department and federal surveillance agencies to get to the root of the problem, according to the Times.

“The Biden administration is working relentlessly to defend the United States from any disruptions to our critical infrastructure, including by coordinating interagency efforts to protect water systems, pipelines, rail and aviation systems, among others,” said Adam Hodge, the acting spokesman for the National Security Council, in a statement to the newspaper.