Saturday, August 27, 2005

Is China Hacking American Government Computers?

Chinese Web sites are being used to target computer networks in the U.S. Defense Department and other federal agencies. The hackers have successfully penetrated hundreds of unclassified networks, according to officials who spoke to the Washington Post. Here is what i think...

hus far no classified systems have been breached. But authorities are concerned because even seemingly innocuous information can yield useful intelligence to an enemy when pieced together from various sources.

"The scope of this thing is surprisingly big," said a government official who spoke anonymously to the Washington Post about the incidents, which stretch back as far as three years and have been code-named "Titan Rain" by American investigators.

Some analysts in the Pentagon believe the attacks constitute a coordinated effort by the Chinese government to spy on U.S. databases.

Also, the Chinese published a military manual in 1999 entitled "Unrestricted Warfare." The book calls for "computer" warfare against the United States, the nation China has identified as its likely enemy in a future war.

Not everyone agrees China's military is behind the hacking. Some think the Titan Rain attacks are the work of hackers simply using Chinese networks to disguise the source of the attacks, the Post reports.

But why would civilian hackers be so focused on U.S. military internet platforms? The Pentagon has more computers than any other U.S. agency about 5 million worldwide and therefore is the most exposed to hackers.

Pentagon figures reveal that more attempts to penetrate Defense Department systems come from China than from any other nation.

Lt. Col. Mike VanPutte, vice director of operations for the Pentagon's Joint Task Force for Global Network Operations, said this doesn't mean that China is the original source of the attacks, only that it is "the last hop" before they reach their targets.

China is favored by hackers because the country has 119 million Internet users, and many of their computers can be compromised, said VanPutte. Also, there are no cyber-investigation agreements between China and the U.S.

Last year the number of attempted attacks from all sources totaled about 79,000, and hackers succeeded in gaining access to a Defense Department computer in about 1,300 cases, officials said.
The Pentagon's latest annual report on Chinese military power contained a section on the development of computer attack systems by

It said the People's Liberation Army views computer operations as "critical to seize the initiative" in establishing "electromagnetic dominance" early in a conflict.

"The PLA has likely established information warfare units to develop viruses to attack enemy computer systems and networks," the report stated.

China's plan for "Unrestricted Warfare" was detailed in a manual written by two Chinese Nationals, Colonels Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui. The manual cites the use of hackers and terrorism in a total war against the U.S. "Unrestricted Warfare" became a bestselling book in China after Sept. 11th 2001. In their book, the Chinese generals had suggested years before the World Trade Center attacks that an attack by Osama bin Laden on the Twin Towers would be an excellent example of new warfare that would destabilize the U.S.

The CIA's translation of the manual reveals that China regards the U.S. as its main enemy, and includes strategies for using computers, smuggling illegal immigrants and using weapons of mass destruction to destroy America.

The manual was developed after the Chinese witnessed America's technological prowess during the 1991 Gulf War. The Chinese colonels sought to develop a strategy using alternative methods that could defeat U.S. technological superiority in a future war.

The gist of the matter is this: We need to protect ourselves because we live in not only a weird but at times a dangerous world. With computers becoming more and more needed in our society and with computers all being linked by the internet it is more likely that an enemy, not just
China but perhaps an Arab State, will attack our computer infrastructure. The real worry is that it may not even be an enemy that hits us likes this, it could be an ally just trying to get a look at our secrets. It might even be an enemy posing as an ally! I invite you to keep your eyes, ears and mind open while you stroll through this big Weird World of ours.

I’m Average Joe


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