Taiwan’s Defense Ministry is seeking cyber-warfare talent to augment the military’s digital operational preparedness as it gears up to develop its capacity both to employ and defend against cyberattacks.

The ministry’s Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology has been wooing candidates holding degrees in science, engineering or other related disciplines for its cyber-warfare research and development initiatives, according to the Central News Agency.

New project employees with doctoral could command a monthly salary of up to NT$85,000 (US$2,700), an attractive remuneration package at a time when the average wage for those with degrees hovers around the NT$35,000 level.

Amid the purported cyber threats from China, Taiwan aims to boost its own ability not only to fend off such attacks, but also to strike back.

The Defense Ministry has allotted almost NT$100 million for universities to develop defense and asymmetric cyber-warfare technologies and strategies.

It has also been inviting “white hat” hackers to test the firewalls and systems reliability of its key networks in the military’s command and control chain as well as those that support vital weapon and reconnaissance units.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Investigation Bureau has alleged that Beijing could be behind last year’s cyberattack on information systems operated by Taipei’s Municipal Department of Health.

The bureau said that last August, it received a report from the department saying that its information systems had been infiltrated by hackers and that around 3 million files of Taipei residents’ personal information had been compromised and possibly transferred overseas.

The systems that were hacked included Taipei’s “health cloud” system used to manage individual cases of dementia, sources said. The department was also the target of waves of similar cyberattack attempts between 2014 and 2017.

Furthermore, the bureau’s experts also found that in 2018 alone, hackers had gained unauthorized access to the intranet systems of more than 50 government agencies and research institutes.

Some cyberattacks believed to have been mounted by Chinese hackers have even disrupted the island’s Internet access, the bureau said, adding that it has notified the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the US and is working with international judicial organizations to verify the identities of the hackers.

Apart from the threats from Chinese hackers, Taiwan also faces increasingly frequent attacks from hackers in Russia and Eastern European nations, according to the bureau.

Investigating the perpetrators of cyber attacks will continue to be a priority, the bureau said. It has now asked agencies and companies that have been targeted to provide it with information and to assist its efforts to defend against such cyber intrusions.