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U.S. military flags China cyber threat
Published: 2008-03-06

The U.S. Department of Defense warned in an annual report released this week that China continues to develop its abilities to wage war in cyberspace as part of a doctrine of "non-contact" warfare.

The warnings are part of the Department's Annual Report to Congress on the Military Power of the People's Republic of China (PRC) 2008 published this week. The report, which for the most part focuses on China's land, air, sea and space capabilities, also notes that numerous intrusions into computer systems at the DOD and its contractors emanated from China.

"Although it is unclear if these intrusions were conducted by, or with the endorsement of, the PLA (People's Liberation Army) or other elements of the PRC government, developing capabilities for cyberwarfare is consistent with authoritative PLA writings on the subject," the DOD stated in the report.

In its section on information warfare, the public report covered China's development of electronic counter measures, its inclusion of offensive cyber attacks in military exercises and its development of viruses to attack enemy computer systems. The main body of the report, however, focused on more conventional military strategies, the increase in China's military budget and the nation's development of military capabilities in the theater of space.

German, U.K and U.S. government officials have previously reported that attacks coming from China had targeted government networks. In August, German media accused the Chinese military of sponsoring attacks targeting the computers of Germany's top officials. In December, the United Kingdom's intelligence service Mi5 warned top corporations to beware of Chinese attacks targeting their systems.

Attacks from a variety of adversaries has convinced the Bush Administration to spend $30 billion over the next five to seven years to beef up security surrounding the networks of all federal agencies.

While attacks from Chinese servers have garnered the most attention, security experts still question the ultimate source of the attacks. Most developed nations have military teams capable of offensive cyber attacks and profit-driven cybercrime continues to be the largest source of attacks.

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Posted by: Robert Lemos
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