Saturday, April 21, 2012

Chinese Cyber Espionage

The US Department of State and Department of Defense detailed findings of Chinese espionage taking American aerospace technology. The technology stolen has been from military as well as civilian sources. The Chinese have denied these claims. It has been stated that the accusations are nothing more than a “ghost” of the Cold War.

The Department of Defense Annual Report to Congress 2011 “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China” summarized Chinese capabilities in both aerospace and cyber technology. The report highlighted an expansion in Chinese space capabilities. Chinese development goals included attempts to enhance their ability to hamper adversaries from employing space-based resources. To meet these ends the Chinese launched satellites for navigation, remote sensing, and communications. The Chinese were also continuing development of the Long March V rocket, a next-generation system for launching higher payloads.

The report, under “Cyberwarfare Capabilities”, stressed that multiple incidents of hacking during 2010 seemed to initiate from sites within China. The main concern voiced in this report was that the expertise required to conduct these “cyber intrusions” was at a level which could also carry out attacks to computer networks. It was emphasized that the structure of China’s defense industry and government’s affiliations with both “private” companies and institutes conducting research allows for the state to have access military technologies. This structure allows for R&D to be classified as civilian which clouds the attainment of sensitive technologies. Moreover, the DoD found that when commercial or academic means did not meet China’s ends of gaining particular technologies, these technologies were simply attained through illegal means.
Therefore, the DoD and State Department’s claims of Chinese use of illicit means to gain military technologies is not a new concept. The Chinese government denied the DoD and State Department’s claims. They replied that their government was not to blame for any of the alleged incidents of hacking for cyber attacks or cyber espionage. The allegations were attributed to suspicions leftover from Cold War mentality. The Chinese called these claims a "Cold War ghost". However, as demonstrated by the 2011 DoD Report to Congress and the video below, various similar allegations have been made in the past and responded to in the same way.   

The goals of this espionage were cited as the decrease of U.S. technological advantage in not only weapons but also communications systems. The technologies that China has been able to get a hold of has the potential of drastically decreasing the time involved with R&D cycles by supplementing Chinese defense research with technologies already developed by foreign militaries. The predominate reason behind advancing these particular technologies was cited from sources within the American intelligence community as enhancing the ability of the Chinese to rebuff access of the American military to critical areas including waters surrounding China, cyberspace, airspace, and outer space.

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