Gen. Timothy Hoff, head of the National Security Agency, expressed concern about Chinese hacking networks “pre-positioning” critical infrastructure for future attacks. The Wall Street Journal reported.

Chinese hacking network Volt Typhoon aims to get into infrastructure, and lie in wait, waiting for the right moment to attack, Hao said.

“We see efforts to silence a network that is critical infrastructure, with no intelligence value, which is why it’s so worrisome,” Howe told the Journal. “One of the reasons we believe is pre-positioning – the tools are not being placed and the data is not being extracted.”

Officials told the Journal that if China were to have a conflict with the U.S., it could launch cyberattacks against water supplies and power grids, the Journal said. China has already infiltrated water systems in the US territory of Guam in the western Pacific, Hao told the Journal.

“It’s very difficult to come up with a scenario where targeting water supplies to the civilian population … is a reasonable target,” Howe said. “From a military perspective, it’s inconsistent with how we’re going to reach the goal of proportional military necessity.”

The Journal reported that Microsoft said Chinese hackers were developing capabilities to affect critical communications infrastructure between the U.S. and Asia during future crises. The US had previously disrupted a Chinese hacking operation in January.

Chinese hackers compromise a user’s identity on the network, then allow them to act as the user and use tools embedded in the system they are targeting, a tactic, Hao said. This is known as living off the ground. The number and sophistication of Chinese cyberattacks against the United States continues to increase, Hue told the Journal.

Chinese firm I-Son claims to have hacked dozens of government targets, including ministries in Malaysia, Thailand and Mongolia, and universities in Hong Kong, Taiwan and France, according to leaked documents obtained by the Journal.

China denies all allegations of cyber attacks and says the US conducts its own cyber attacks.

Hao told the Journal that he works with defense contractors to prevent China from stealing sensitive information.

“If they see a risk, they can share it with us, and we do the same with them — at a thousand companies every day,” Howe said.

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