As cyber battles grow more violent, hack attacks more blatant, risks more dramatic, the world's political opponents rush to protect themselves. The US and China seem to have strongest cyber armies, and the winner may have already been determined.
A series of hacking attacks on US corporations and
infrastructure facilities show the United States is losing its
cyber war with China, says the chairman of the US House
Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers.
"They [the Chinese] use their military and intelligence structure to [steal] intellectual property from American businesses, and European businesses, and Asian businesses, repurpose it and then compete in the international market against the United States," Rogers told ABC.
Earlier in February, American data company Mandiant reported to
have tracked 141 cyber attacks performed by the same Chinese hacker
group since 2006, 115 of which turned against US corporations.
Rogers says there is "not a shadow of a doubt" the attacks
were sponsored by the Chinese government. He says it's just the tip
of the iceberg and on average the US is subjected to at least 140
attacks per day.
“We get [hit] every single day by a whole series of attacks, everything from criminals trying to get into your bank account or steal your identity, to nation states like China who are investing billions and hiring thousands,” he said.
China denies any involvement by the government or the military in hacking attacks, saying the Mandiant report lacks any proof of its charges.
Geopolitical analyst William Engdahl believes US 'cyber war'
rhetoric aims to demonize China.
"I think what we’re looking at is part of this Obama pivot to focus on China and to paint China as a new military threat to the world. It’s a demonization of China,” he told RT.
But former Pentagon official Michael Maloof says the threat is very real, as China is engaging in a form of asymmetrical warfare being orchestrated by the People’s Liberation Army.
“This is part of their strategy, and it’s not just aimed at us [the United States], but at every other industrialized country that has technology and information to share. So it becomes a substitute, really, for putting spies into locations, which is lengthy, costly and has questionable results. This allows them access not only to spy, but to disrupt facilities if those facilities are vulnerable.”
Maloof says that this form of sixth generation warfare has political, economic and military implications.
“It’s a means of obtaining the information of competitors, of
high-tech companies, unbeknownst to these companies. We’ve had
other recent cases and recent Senate and House Intelligence
[Committee] investigations of how the Chinese have used microchips
installed in telecommunications equipment to actually spy on
competitors and big major businesses that have a lot of technology
that they want. This is a form of economic warfare, it also has
military and diplomatic implications.”
While the US complains about being a victim of cyber attacks,
it's well known its government has been behind major international
cyber attacks against strategic objects of other nations. A
computer virus known as StuxNet infected Iran's nuclear enrichment
facilities, destroying nearly 1,000 of the country's 6,000
centrifuges. According to reports, the virus, made entirely out of
code, was a joint collaboration between the US and Israel.
Last October, US President Obama signed an executive order expanding military authority to carry out cyber-attacks, now called ‘defensive’ actions. Around the same time, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned the public of a “cyber Pearl Harbor.” Panetta told Time magazine: “The three potential adversaries out there that are developing the greatest capabilities are Russia, China and Iran.”
The Pentagon has reportedly decided to double its cyber war
workforce from 900 to more than 4500 employees. The new US 'cyber
defense' strategy cannot but worry the other world players, leading
as far as a 'US-China Cold War', RT's correspondent Marina Portnaya
“In terms of a Pandora’s box, I think it will be slighter
harder for the United States to adopt a position of purely defense
now. We’ve sort of made it clear that we’re willing to use cyber in
advance of our national interest.” Allan Friedman from
Washington's Brookings Institute told RT.
There is little doubt the cyber espionage and rivalry has
already turned into battlefield and is viewed by the military as
"Every commander with whom I have spoken is convinced that
the next major war will include a cyber component," journalist
Tom Gjelton told RT. "It won’t just be a traditional insurgency,
bombing from aircraft, ground troops; the next war, almost
certainly, will include a cyber component," he confirms.