Most cybersecurity experts, in the private sector and in government throughout the United States, believe the Chinese are one of the largest practitioners of cyber attacks against U.S. networks.
The Chinese are accused of using cyberspace to conduct espionage and prepare for possible future conflicts with the United States
The Chinese government officially denies it is actively attempting to breach U.S. networks. According to the The Washington Post, Wang Baodong, the spokesperson for the Chinese embassy, said, “Allegations that China is behind, or ‘likely behind,’ cyber attacks or cyber espionage against the United States are more frequent and more sensational.”
He went on to claim that because China is also increasingly on the network, which is often administered in the United States, it does not make logical sense for the Chinese to attack U.S. networks and systems.
Despite the assurances of the Chinese government, it is clear the Chinese have stood up a substantial cyber-warfighting capability. A recent report for the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, authored by Northrop Grumman, highlighted Chinese cyber-war capabilities. The report compiled data from numerous open sources and discovered a virtual paramilitary network of cyber warriors for China.
A number of U.S. officials and security experts are also concerned about China’s ability to infiltrate and map out US networks for the possibility of future conflict. If such a conflict were to occur, the Chinese would be able to shut down portions of the U.S. critical infrastructure. Another potential problem with Chinese infiltration is that the hackers could be leaving behind malicious code that could be used at a later date.
Former DNI Mike McConnell said recently “The United States is not prepared for such an attack” and raised the concern that an attacker could harm the U.S. way of life by destroying faith and trust in fundamental systems. Jim Lewis, of the Center for International and Strategic Studies, is concerned as well. However, he recognizes the premier entity in the world conducting cyber probing is the U.S. government.
As long as the United States maintains a skilled cybersecurity workforce, (particularly with NSA securing top talent), perhaps there isn’t as much to worry about from China.