China vs US mutual accusations, the cyber cold war is begun

Pierluigi Paganini May 09, 2013

China and US governments continue to exchange accusations about the continuing incursions into the respective national networks.

China and US governments continue to exchange accusations about the continuing incursions into the respective national networks, the cyber attacks are mainly motivated by sabotage and cyber espionage purposes and are increasing exponentially.

US government and intelligence agencies have tracked back numerous attacks from Chinese IPs, of course this is not considerable a proof of Chinese state-sponsored attacks but security experts have no doubts, Government of Beijing is responsible of majority of cyber attacks against US infrastructures principally to acquire intellectual property for technological modernization of the country.

The recent report produced US security company Mandiant produced evidence of link between Chinese state sponsored hackers and recent cyber operation against US private companies and Government Offices.

The US government  accused China’s military of sustaining a campaign of cyber attacks against American government computer systems and defense contractors to qualify “military capabilities that could be exploited during a crisis.”

On the other hand the Chinese Government rejects every accusation and blames US cyber units for attacks against national cyber asset defining US the “real hacking empire”, China’s foreign ministry refused every ascription made into one in the last report issued by the Pentagon which accuses China to try to violate US defense computer networks.

china US cyber warfare

The People’s Liberation Army Daily defined the document a “gross interference in China’s internal affairs”.

The US government explicitly refers the rapid technological evolution of the China cites the development of a new generation of stealth aircraft and suspect that Chinese researchers have been supported with information gathered with an intense espionage campaign over the years that hit US Governments, defense companies and various subcontractors.

Cyber experts estimate that about 90 percent of all cyberattacks against US networks is originated from China.

The Pentagon’s annual report to Congress recently released is the first government document that explicitly accuses People’s Liberation Army (PLA) for organizing a campaign of attacks to gain a strategic technological advantage over the United States.

China Annual Report to Congress

In 2012, numerous computer systems around the world, including those owned by the U.S. government, continued to be targeted for intrusions, some of which appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military,” 

According the Chinese The People’s Liberation Army Daily US Government is fomenting the discussion to distract public opinion and create a climate of tension that would benefit the usual group of companies operating in the US military sector and close to the central government.

[US is] “trumpeting China’s military threat to promote its domestic interests groups and arms dealers”, the newspaper said, adding that it expects “U.S. arms manufacturers are gearing up to start counting their money”.

The two governments are focusing the confrontation in cyberspace, both states understood the potential of the cyber tools for espionage and sabotage, and both governments continue to provide direct support and investment to support research on new technologies to compromise adversary’s networks.

The Chinese Government has expressed in the past great concerns on the attacks that are targeting its network and that result originated from West.

Xinhua agency revealed that China’s Internet security watchdog detected from September 2012 to February 2013 various attacks against national cyber assets, 85 government websites and high-profile private companies suffered serious offensive.

Chinese authorities are concerned regarding the pressure of attacks originated from West, 46% of the incursions were traced back to the United States based, also in this case it is impossible to establish a precise responsibility of Washington.

Surprising the number of overseas Internet Protocol (IP) addresses originating the attacks, CNCERT (National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team Coordination Center) identified in 2012 73,000 different addresses involved in hijacking nearly 14.2 million mainframes in China via Trojan or Botnet.

The majority of malware based attacks is originated in the US, the attackers gathered unauthorized access to 16,388 web pages in China, the percentage of government websites is 11% in 2012, up 6.1 percent respect previous year.

The People’s Daily has weighed the allegations against the US proposing a declaration of spokesman of the Chinese Communist Party;

“As we all know, the United States is the real ‘hacking empire’ and has an extensive espionage network,”

“in recent years, the United States has continued to strengthen its network tools for political subversion against other countries”. 

Cyber weapons are more frightening than nuclear weapons,” the People’s Daily said. “To establish military hegemony on the Internet by repeatedly smearing other countries is a dangerous and wrong path to take and will ultimately end up in shooting themselves in the foot.”

Much time has passed since the cold war of the past decades, today contenders are changed and the means of confrontation and battlefield are also different, but I’m tempted to define the current scenario as Cold War 2.0.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Cyber warfare)

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