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FETC hacking incident a 'severe' attack: Cabinet

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The repeated cyber attacks that targeted the Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co. (FETC) were deemed “severe” incidents that might affect the security of many people's personal information, the Executive Yuan said yesterday.

According to Vice Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國), the FETC's eTag electronic toll collection system was attacked 8.2 billion times over the course of three and half hours recently.

Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday said that even though the FETC immediately activated security systems to respond to the cyber attacks and restored the system to normal operations, the incident is still a serious manner.

“eTag is a key transportation toll system in this country, and it contains much personal information that should be kept safely,” said Jiang. “Therefore, the Cabinet has requested that the authority in charge of the investigation do its best to solve this case.”

Jiang also demanded the Transportation Ministry enforce safety measures for the eTag system, in order to protect the public's rights.

The Executive Yuan invited the Transportation Ministry, the FETC and the office responsible for data security on Wednesday to discuss the cyber attacks, and Minister without Portfolio Simon Chang (張善政) yesterday declared that the cyber attack was a severe incident in regards to the management of information safety.

“There are four levels of seriousness for attacks on databases, with level four being the most severe; the cyber attacks on the FETC were categorized as level three,” Chang said.

“I suggested the FETC activate the data security system immediately,” said Chang. “The Executive Yuan's data security office also reached an agreement with the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) to work together on the case.”

Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) yesterday said that the CIB has been investigating the three Internet protocol (IP) addresses that launched the cyber attacks.

Vice Minister of Justice Wu Chen-huan (吳陳鐶) said that if more IP addresses are discovered as sources of hacker attacks, it would completely affect the efficiency of the investigation because investigators require a judge's approval to examine computer records.

“If the Legislative Yuan wishes to revise the regulations limiting the wiretapping and evidence collecting rights of prosecutors, it might also affect the efficiency of investigations,” said Wu.

The FETC has faced numerous issues since the new freeway toll system was launched on Dec. 30, including complaints from drivers over the eTag electronic toll collection systems falsely charging them and a lack of customer service representatives.

In a press release issued on Wednesday, FETC said that the rights of drivers are always the priority for the company, and FETC will cooperate with the government's inspections and conduct multiple reviews on the eTag system to prevent any mistakes from taking place again.

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