In the context of global strife, the popularity of cyber operations is expanding and demanding increased cyber resistance. Texas, a leading corporate, manufacturing, and critical infrastructure powerhouse in the United States., recognizes Taiwan's cyber stance is something the United States could learn from. Taiwan’s TXOne Networks, a subsidiary company of Trend Micro a cybersecurity software company co-founded by three Taiwanese nationals, announced Irving, Texas as the new site of its Americas headquarters earlier this month. In light of this cyber cooperation between Texas and Taiwan, what exactly is the need for collaboration?
By joining the American market, TXOne Networks hopes to answer Texas's growing concerns about how to adapt to the ever-changing cyber threat and environment. Given its position as a hub for critical infrastructure and private businesses, Texas has consistently ranked as the third-highest cybercrime financial loss in the United States, with $313.57 million in losses in 2020. While many of these cyberattacks are primarily motivated by financial gain against private corporations, incidents like the 2019 Sodinokibi/REvil Ransomware attacks illustrate that the exploitation of vulnerabilities in Texas’ public interconnected digital technologies and municipalities is becoming increasingly common. TXOne Networks intends to stop disruptions caused by these emerging threats and vulnerabilities through the implementation of their Zero Trust operational technology (OT) methodology.
Given its regional geopolitical context and world-leading technology industry, Taiwan is all too familiar with the need to confront the difficulties of persistent cybersecurity attacks from both domestic and foreign adversaries. In November 2021, an official disclosed the Taiwanese government had been subjected to around five million cyber-attacks and infiltration attempts every day. In fact, this series of high-profile cyberattacks has brought Taiwan into the international spotlight and the forefront of the cybersecurity industry, and the world is watching as Taiwan is put to the test. OT-related attacks are one of the forms of cyber warfare Taiwan has consistently had to deal with. OT refers to “ systems or devices that interact with the physical environment” and “examples include industrial control systems, building management systems,[and] fire control systems,” according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). In 2019, despite a 2000% surge in OT-related security incidents, it was reported by an IBM survey that 81% of Taiwanese businesses lacked OT-specific incident response procedures.
More recently, the Taiwanese government and private sector have shifted how they prioritize cybersecurity. The Financial Services Commission (FSC) of Taiwan released its own “Financial Cyber Security Action Plan” in August 2020, and in 2021 the FSC mandated institutions engaged in the securities and futures industry to report cybersecurity incidents, resulting losses, and countermeasures in annual reports. In the next few months, Taiwan is set to establish the Ministry of Digital Development, including two agencies: the Digital Industry Administration and the Cyber Security Administration.
Taiwan's digital transformation has benefited not just Taiwan's national defense strategy, but also the expansion of its cybersecurity sector. Taiwan’s unique cybersecurity methodology can benefit both parties in the Taiwan-Texas collaboration by helping to develop more resilient cyber defense strategies against common threat actors, like Russia-based hackers REvil. Despite significant differences in size of operations, Texas and Taiwan both have a reputation as top manufacturers and operators of critical infrastructure, which strengthens their shared interests in cybersecurity and should raise hopes for future international cooperation in cyber defense as nations continue to deal with evolving threats in “different” environments.
Maria D. Corte is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington. She is a second-year graduate student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University studying International Security, Human Security, and Tech Policy, with a concentration on Asian and Korean Peninsula Affairs. She graduated from Texas Tech University with BAs in Philosophy and in Electronic Media and Communications.