Senator warns of possible Chinese interference in 2022 polls following cyber espionage report

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 20) — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday called on relevant authorities to probe a report on cyber espionage attacks conducted by “Chinese-speaking threat actors” against the Philippines, saying these may be used by China to influence the 2022 elections.

The warning came after cybersecurity firm Kaspersky said the threat actors have been targeting internet users in Southeast Asia, including government entities and with focus on the Philippines, since at least October 2020.

Kaspersky linked the “rare, widespread threat campaign” to the Chinese-speaking HoneyMyte group, which is known to be interested in gathering geopolitical and economic intelligence in Asia and Africa.

This "cyber warfare" and possible related disinformation campaigns, Hontiveros said, will be “one of the biggest threats to our national security and our democracy.”

Hindi na ako magugulat kung mangingialam sa ating eleksyon ang Tsina [I won’t be surprised if China interferes in our elections],” she said in a statement, noting the Philippines’ ongoing dispute with the East Asian nation over the West Philippine Sea.

The senator urged the Department of National Defense and the Department of Information and Communications Technology to look into the Kaspersky report and strengthen the country’s cyber defense.

CNN Philippines has contacted the DND and the DICT for comments.