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The White House did not warn of an imminent attack to critical infrastructure.
The claim cited a report by The New York Times about the discovery and tracking of Chinese malware implanted in networks controlling power grids, communications systems and water supplies servicing military bases. The National Security Council has said it is working to defend the U.S. from any potential disruptions.
A man in a viral video is urging people to get a generator, fill their gas and water tanks, and stockpile food, saying that the White House warned "something is going on and we need to be getting ready for it."
"We have the White House coming out with an official statement. They just made this last night on Friday, they made this official statement that we need to be getting prepared for something big to happen, potentially to our critical infrastructure," he said in a video posted July 30 to Facebook.
He said the warning could mean "big things like the grid going down, the internet communications going down, or a combination of those."
This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
The original video was posted by a YouTuber who goes by "Patrick Humphrey," who has more than 88,000 subscribers. His video gained more than 32,000 views on YouTube.
We found no official announcement from the White House on Friday telling Americans to prepare for a potential, imminent attack to the country’s critical infrastructure.
Near the seven-minute mark of his 21-minute video, Humphrey cited a New York Times report published July 29 about the Biden administration hunting for malicious computer code that China may have hidden inside networks controlling power grids, communication systems and water supplies feeding military bases in the United States and around the world. The report attributed this to anonymous American military, intelligence and national security officials — not an official statement from the White House.
The report said the malware could allow China to interrupt or slow American military activities by cutting off power, water and communications to U.S. military bases, but officials warned it could also affect houses and businesses of ordinary Americans served by the same infrastructure.
This first malware discovery came to light in late May, the Times reported, when Microsoft said it detected mysterious computer code in its systems in Guam, a U.S. territory that has a vast Air Force base. This prompted the U.S. and international cybersecurity authorities to issue a joint cybersecurity advisory on the "state-sponsored cyber activity."
According to officials and industry experts who spoke to The New York Times, the Chinese malware campaign has been going on for at least a year, and the government’s effort to hunt down the code has been underway "for some time."
The report said the malware discovery has prompted a series of White House Situation Room meetings in recent months so officials can understand the scope of the problem and plot a response.
Adam Hodge, the National Security Council’s acting spokesperson, told the Times the administration is "working relentlessly" to defend the country from any disruptions to its critical infrastructure and is coordinating with agencies to protect systems including water, pipelines, rail and aviation.
Officials told the news outlet they believe in many cases, communications, computer networks and power grids could be restored in a matter of days, not "weeks" as the claim suggested.
We rate the claim that the White House made an "official statement" on Friday warning the public to prepare for an attack against critical infrastructure False.
Facebook post, July 30, 2023
YouTube video by Patrick Humphrey, July 29, 2023
The New York Times, U.S. Hunts Chinese Malware That Could Disrupt American Military Operations, July 29, 2023
The New York Times, Chinese Malware Hits Systems on Guam. Is Taiwan the Real Target?, May 24, 2023
Microsoft, Volt Typhoon targets US critical infrastructure with living-off-the-land techniques, May 24, 2023
Joint Cybersecurity Advisory, People's Republic of China State-Sponsored Cyber Actor Living off the Land to Evade Detection, accessed July 31, 2023
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