The Pentagon’s National Defense University recently published a groundbreaking book that is one of the few U.S. government documents to highlight the cyberwarfare capabilities of both China and Russia.
The book “Cyberpower and National Security” contains a chapter on the issue revealing that China’s computer attack capabilities have become “more visible and troubling” in recent years. “China has launched an unknown number of cyber reconnaissance and offensive events with unknown intent against a variety of countries,” the chapter said.
Among the most important attacks were the 2005 cyber espionage attacks against Pentagon computer networks that federal investigators code-named Titan Rain. Another Chinese-origin attack involved computer operations against the U.S. Naval War College in 2006 that shut down systems.
According to the chapter, China’s military strategists regard cyberwarfare as an important element of “pre-emptive” warfare capabilities.
Chinese military analysts Peng Guangqian and Yao Youzhi are quoted as saying China plans to use several types of pre-emptive attacks in a future conflict, including “striking the enemy’s information center of gravity and weakening combat efficiency of his information systems and cyberized weapons” with the goal of weakening information superiority and reducing combat efficiency.
China’s information-warfare strategy, as outlined in military writings, appears to rely heavily on the use of deception. Cyberwarfare is not simply shutting down networks, but includes such concepts as directing the enemy’s thoughts in the wrong direction; using fictitious objects to hide the true battlefield picture; the use of comprehensive deception operations; the release of viruses; and misleading the enemy by pretending to follow his wishes.
Regarding Russian cyberwarfare, the book stated that Russia, like China, has been linked to cyberwarfare attacks around the world, including cyberattacks against the Baltic nation of Estonia.
The book said Moscow’s cyberforces are preparing a strategy called “reflexive control” that seeks to use computer attacks to convey false motives and reasons for military operations, with the goal of forcing the enemy to “make a decision unfavorable to itself.”
The author of the chapter, Timothy L. Thomas, a specialist at the Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., said both Chinese and Russian approaches to cyberwarfare differ sharply from U.S. methods.
“Chinese efforts to move packets of electrons through wires in accordance with 5,000-year-old strategems come immediately to mind, as do Russian attempts to use international organizations to shape the world’s understanding of cybertechnologies,” Mr. Thomas stated.
A Russian Embassy spokesman had no comment.
A Chinese Embassy spokesman could not be reached for comment. However, embassy spokeswoman Wei Xin in the past has dismissed reports of Chinese cyberwarfare activities. “China is a victim of international hacking activities and never conducts computer network attacks against any other countries,” she said.
Bill Gertz is geopolitics editor and a national security and investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
Mr. Gertz also writes a weekly column ...
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