‘Old Witch’, ‘Pelosi get out of Taiwan!’: Public billboards hacked on US Speaker’s visit

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Issued on: 03/08/2022 – 17:01

Public concern about Taiwan’s national security arose after monitors in multiple convenience stores and a train station in Taiwan were hacked as US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi began a controversial visit. The government of China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province and had expressed strong opposition to the visit. The screens projected messages accusing Pelosi of triggering wars, and telling her to get out.


As Pelosi prepared to meet Taiwanese officials on Wednesday, commuters at the Xin Zuoying station in Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s third-biggest city, were surprised to see this message on an electronic billboard: “The old witch’s visit to Taiwan is a serious provocation to the sovereignty of the Motherland… Greater China will ultimately be unified!” 

An electronic billboard at the main station in the Tawanese city of Kaohsiung was hacked Aug. 3, 2022 during a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The billboard read: “The old witch’s visit to Taiwan is a serious provocation to the sovereignty of the Motherland [Editor’s note: Motherland is a term to refer to China often used in narratives that encourage the reunification of Taiwan.]; those who welcomed her will eventually be judged by society; the bond of blood among our race will never be cut; Greater China will ultimately be unified!” © Twitter/@axeonjack

Taiwan Railway said the billboard had been hacked “via an external network”, and that the station immediately unplugged the screen and notified the company that operated it. The railway operator said its internal IT systems remained intact.

© Observers

7-Eleven convenience stores also targeted by anti-Pelosi hackers

Also Wednesday, public screens in multiple 7-Eleven branches, the largest convenience store franchise in Taiwan, were reported to be displaying images of slogans asking Pelosi to leave Taiwan: “Nancy Pelosi, you war-monger, get out of Taiwan!” 

A message displayed on screens in 7-Eleven convenience stores in Taiwan Aug. 3, 2022 read: “Nancy Pelosi, you war-monger, get out of Taiwan!” The stores’ operator said its screens were hacked. © Plurk/@watering76
The same image was displayed in a 7-Eleven branch in the south of Taiwan. Twitter/@hdiojojo

Awaiting clarification of the situation, some 7-Eleven branches temporarily turned off their screens. 

A 7-Eleven store turned off the public billboard while the cyber attack took place on August 3, 2022. © Twitter/@Geomus1

Uni-President, the company representing 7-Eleven in Taiwan, claimed that the collective malfunctioning of the monitors was due to an “external disturbance to the system.”

Taiwan’s Investigation Bureau said Wednesday it was investigating the hacking at the 7-Eleven stores.

President’s website hacked

On Tuesday August 2, ahead of Pelosi’s arrival on the island, the official website of Taiwan’s president said it had been the target of an overseas distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, a cyber attack designed to paralyze websites by tremendously increasing their internet traffic. As a result, the website went down for 20 minutes.

Screenshot of Taiwan’s Office of the President website, which said it was briefly shut down by a cyber attack on Aug. 2, 2022 ahead of a visit by US Spaker Nancy Pelosi. © Twitter/@tingtingliuTVBS

Hacking raises concern over Taiwan’s cybersecurity

Numerous internet users expressed their concerns over Taiwan’s cybersecurity capacity.

This tweet posted after apparent attacks by pro-Chinese hackers Aug. 3, 2022 reads: “Taiwan’s cybersecurity is too fragile. What if it was our airports being hacked?…” © Observers
This tweet reads: “We should first check if these monitors were made by Chinese brands.” © Observers
This tweet reads: “Taiwan should take this seriously now that the hackers even intruded on our public systems! There are many spies domestically, perhaps many more than we imagine.” © Observers