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CIA: China planning cyber-attacks on U.S., Taiwan
From: InfoSec News <isn () c4i org>
Date: Thu, 25 Apr 2002 03:15:16 -0500 (CDT)
[For a peek at what the Chinese might have in store for a rainy day,
you might be interested to look at Unrestricted Warfare, which has
been called a blueprint for future Chinese aggression. One just has to
hope that if the CIA is right on the money with the prediction of
attacks, that U.S. and Allied crackers don't turn this into the
pissing match it was this time last year. - WK
Unrestricted Warfare: http://www.c4i.org/unrestricted.pdf
Cyberwar? More Like Hot Air:
By Eric Lichtblau
Los Angeles Times
Wed, Apr. 24, 2002
WASHINGTON - U.S. intelligence officials believe the Chinese military
is working to launch wide-scale cyber-attacks on American and
Taiwanese computer networks, including Internet-linked military
systems considered vulnerable to sabotage, according to a classified
Moreover, U.S. authorities are bracing for a possible wave of hacking
attacks by Chinese students against the United States in coming weeks,
according to the analysis. The confidential alert, which was reviewed
by the Los Angeles Times, was sent to intelligence officials a week
Although U.S. officials have voiced concerns about individual hackers
in China who have defaced federal and private Web sites, the United
States has resisted publicly linking the Chinese government to those
attacks or to broader cyber-style warfare.
Eye on authorities
The new CIA report, however, makes clear that U.S. intelligence
analysts have become increasingly concerned that authorities in
Beijing are actively planning to damage and disrupt U.S. computer
systems through the use of Internet hacking and computer viruses.
Although the assessment concludes that China has not yet acquired the
technical sophistication to do broad damage to U.S. and Taiwanese
systems, it maintains that this is the ``intended goal'' of the
People's Liberation Army in China. ``The mission of Chinese special
forces includes physical sabotage'' of vulnerable systems, the report
says -- a sign that some analysts say is driven by China's hostility
The Chinese Embassy in Washington insisted Wednesday, however, that
Beijing is only conducting computer research that is strictly
defensive in nature.
``It is not the Chinese government's policy to disrupt the computer
system of any other country,'' said Larry Wu, an embassy official.
``We do research on the security of computers, of course --
self-defense to understand how a hacker can get into our computer
systems so we can defend it,'' he said. ``But China has never assumed
an offensive stance with regards to computer technology.''
But several specialists in security and military affairs said the
CIA's conclusions jibe with their own observations about China's
research into offensive-minded cyber-tools.
``We should be very worried about this issue,'' said James Mulvenon, a
China analyst at the Rand think tank, who has extensively studied
Chinese computer capabilities.
Taiwan, which China regards as a renegade province, appears to be the
driving force behind the Chinese interest in hacking and viruses,
Mulvenon said. Under one scenario, if China were to make good on its
longstanding threat to invade Taiwan, the Chinese military could then
seek to deploy widespread computer disruptions against American and
Taiwanese military systems to slow any effort by U.S. forces to
intervene in Taiwan's defense, he said.
The issue threatens to inflame what are invariably tense relations
between the United States and the communist government in China,
relations already frayed by a volley of charges and countercharges
over alleged nuclear, military and political espionage.
Relations hit a low point last year after a U.S. spy plane collided
with a Chinese jet fighter, triggering an international standoff over
the return of the plane's 24 Navy crew members. China detained them
for 11 days and returned the disassembled plane months later.
Recent months have seen a warming in relations as the Bush
administration secured China's cooperation in the war on terrorism.
But China has become upset by what it sees as the White House's
increasingly favorable overtures toward Taiwan.
The CIA's assessment discusses both Taiwan and the United States,
revealing that U.S. intelligence officials believe both are targets of
the Chinese military.
``The People's Liberation Army does not yet have the capability to
carry out its intended goal of disrupting Taiwanese military and
civilian infrastructures or U.S. military logistics using
computer-virus attacks,'' said the CIA.
``China's virus-attack capabilities are similar to those of
sophisticated hackers and are limited to temporary disruption of
sectors that use the Internet,'' the report said.
A government official who also asked not to be identified cautioned,
however, that the immediate threat posed by Chinese computer
disruptions is fairly limited.
``This is something we're certainly concerned about. But in terms of
their being able to disrupt Taiwan or U.S. military and civilian
infrastructure, they can't do it yet. That's the story.''
"Communications without intelligence is noise; Intelligence
without communications is irrelevant." Gen Alfred. M. Gray, USMC
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- CIA: China planning cyber-attacks on U.S., Taiwan InfoSec News (Apr 25)