China ‘building cyberwarfare capability’ US report claims
China is building its cyberwarfare capabilities and appears to be using the growing technical abilities to collect US intelligence through a sophisticated and long-term computer attack campaign, according to an independent report.
Published: 7:00AM BST 22 Oct 2009
The study, released by a congressional advisory panel, found cases suggesting that China’s elite hacker community has ties to the Beijing government, although there is little hard evidence.
The commission report details a cyberattack against a US company several years ago that appeared to either originate in or come through China and was similar to other incidents also believed to be connected to the country.
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China’s global cyber-espionage network GhostNet penetrates 103 countriesAccording to the analysis, the company noticed that over several days, data from its network was being sent to multiple computers in the US and overseas.
While the report does not identify the company, it contends that the attackers targeted specific data, suggesting a very coordinated and sophisticated operation by people who had the expertise to use the high-tech information.
An internet protocol (IP) address located in China was used at times during the episode.
Barring proof, the study by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission warns that the sort of expansive and sophisticated computer resources that have been seen in cyberattacks on the US and other countries “is difficult at best without some type of state sponsorship.”
The study contends that the Chinese, long reported to be stoking a massive military build up, has also made computer warfare a priority.
The Chinese government is said to view such cyberprowess as critical for victory in future conflicts – similar to the priority on offensive cyber abilities stressed by some U.S. officials.
Potential Chinese targets in the US, according to the report, would likely include Pentagon networks and databases to disrupt command and control communications, and possibly corrupt encrypted data.
The report notes, however, that penetrating such classified systems would be time consuming and difficult.