‘Voltzite’ Zaps African Utilities as A part of Volt Hurricane’s Onslaught

'Voltzite' Zaps African Utilities as Part of Volt Typhoon's Onslaught

“Voltzite,” the operational know-how (OT)-focused unit inside China’s Volt Hurricane superior persistent menace (APT), is concentrating on electrical transmission and distribution organizations in African nations — doubtless with an analogous motivation to its exercise within the US.

Volt Hurricane has famously continued to carry out reconnaissance and enumeration of a number of US-based crucial infrastructure targets, primarily “pre-staging” disruptive capabilities meant to sow chaos and make it harder to speak and transfer supplies if kinetic turmoil erupts within the South China Sea over Taiwan or commerce considerations.  

Particularly, OT safety specialist Dragos mentioned final week that Voltzite has been “knocking on the door” of compromising bodily industrial management methods (ICSes) at electric-sector targets within the US, and tells Darkish Studying that the identical MO is enjoying out in Africa.

“Throughout July and August 2023, Dragos noticed recognized Voltzite infrastructure performing in depth reconnaissance and potential exploitation makes an attempt in opposition to an African electrical community operator’s exterior community perimeter,” a Dragos spokesperson says. “From the investigation, it’s assessed that the adversary was doubtless within the goal’s geographic data methods (GIS) knowledge.”

GIS instruments, amongst different issues, can be utilized to manage clusters of Web-of-things (IoT) units in industrial settings by mapping elements and assembling workflows appropriately.

The Dragos spokesperson provides, “We can not touch upon the intent of the adversary, as solely the adversary is aware of their intent — nevertheless, concentrating on of the electrical sector and curiosity in GIS knowledge is closely in alignment with Voltzite’s operations inside america.”

Along with these assaults, Dragos researchers additionally noticed attainable exploitation makes an attempt in November in opposition to an African electrical transmission, distribution, and retailer entity.

China’s Digital Silk Highway Amplifies Geopolitical Tensions

Such incursion makes an attempt are doubtless pushed by considerations round China’s “Digital Silk Highway” initiative, which refers back to the nation’s heavy funding in know-how throughout the continent.

The nation’s tech giants are constructing all the pieces from telecommunications networks to IoT sensor meshes for ostensibly modernizing metropolis infrastructure. However whereas African nations see the initiative as a faster, less-expensive, and much-needed path to modernity and financial growth, critics see a brash form of digital colonialism, whereby China is gaining a difficult-to-dislodge foothold within the area.

Final yr, US lawmakers drafted a resolution criticizing South Africa’s government for being just a little too cozy with Beijing. They cited the deep involvement China has in efforts resembling putting in surveillance cameras throughout Johannesburg (the floor declare is that the cameras are for crime discount; lawmakers have mentioned they believe espionage functionality to be the true purpose). However the considerations have a navy tinge: The decision got here after the nation carried out naval workout routines with China and Russia, and China could possibly be involved with potential navy meddling by america.

“The overlaps of OT cybersecurity threats with regional and world kinetic occasions have by no means been extra evident than in 2023,” in response to Dragos’ annual OT safety report, launched final week. “Geopolitical tensions worldwide, together with in Asia and Africa, have additionally pushed intelligence gathering and capability-staging exercise.”

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