China is a lead cyberattacker of US military computers, Pentagon reports
China is especially interested in gleaning how best to defend its own computer networks from cyberattack, says a Pentagon report on cyberwar threats. But China is also improving its offensive abilities.
(Page 2 of 2)
Two US House members went further: "Every morning in China, thousands of highly trained computer spies now wake up with one mission: Steal U.S. intellectual property that the Chinese can use to further their economic growth," Reps. Mike Rogers (R) of Michigan and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D) of Maryland, chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, wrote in an op-ed article last month. "American companies are hemorrhaging research and development on products ranging from fighter engines, to pesticides, to cutting-edge information technology."Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Chinese leaders tend to deny such attacks. “I can hardly agree with the proposition that the cyberattacks directed to the United States are directly coming from China,” Gen. Liang Guanglie, China’s minister of national defense, said during a press conference at the Pentagon, where he was visiting, earlier this month.
On this point, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was elliptical as he stood beside his Chinese counterpart. “It’s true, as the general pointed out, that obviously there are other countries, actors, others involved in some of the attacks that both our countries receive.”
But “some” does not account for the “many” cyberattacks coming from China cited in the most recent Pentagon assessment of Chinese military might.
Helvey declined to point the finger directly at the Chinese government, demurring when asked if that’s who is ultimately responsible for the attacks. “When you say ‘from China,’ you mean from the Chinese government, presumably, right?” a reporter wondered.
“I just said it comes from China. I didn’t specify the specific attribution,” Helvey responded. “But we do have some concern about a number of these ... particular operations that appear to originate from China.”
Even as China develops advanced military capabilities, along with greater proficiency in cyberattacks, US officials stress that the Pentagon must avoid being caught off guard by Chinese advances in other weapons systems as well, such as advanced submarines, space technologies, and missile defense.
“That is something that we have to anticipate and expect. I mean, we’re paying very careful attention to China’s military modernization,” Helvey said. “But we’ve been surprised in the past, and we may very well be surprised in terms of seeing new weapons and equipment in the future.”