Chinese cyber-threat to US military

09/03/2012

A report by a US congressional advisory panel says China has developed significant cyber-warfare capabilities that can threaten US military forces in a possible conflict over Taiwan. The report highlighted that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is investing strongly in its preparedness for a so-called “information-confrontation”.

The report says: “Chinese capabilities in computer network operations have advanced sufficiently to pose genuine risk to US military operations in the event of a conflict. PLA analysts consistently identify logistics and (command-and-control) infrastructure as US strategic centres of gravity, which they would almost certainly target.” The report also emphasises the problem of retaliatory measures due to probable difficulties in attributing responsibility for a cyber-attack: “Even if circumstancial evidence points to China as the culprit, no policy currently exists to easily determine appropriate response options to a large-scale attack on US military or civilian networks in which definitive attribution is lacking.”

According to the report, the cooperation between the PLA and Chinese telecommunications companies with strong research and technology capabilities represents a particular threat to US infrastructure. Michael Wesser, member of the congressional panel, commented that due to China’s extensive development of cyber tools, there is a clear and present danger (for the US) that is increasing every day.

What constitutes an Article 5 attack in cyberspace? An intrusion, espionage, manipulation of data, data destruction or action that creates a kinetic effect within or outside of cyber systems? What is an appropriate level of response by alliance members? Register today for the 2012 Security Jam and discuss these questions with Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), on 19 March 2012 at 17:00 (CET).