Congressional report reveals Chinese cyber espionage continues

China’s large-scale campaign of cyber espionage against the United States is continuing despite U.S. government efforts to negotiate an end to the problem.

“Since at least the mid-2000s, the Chinese government has conducted large-scale cyber espionage against the United States,” states a forthcoming report of the congressional U.S.-China Economic Security and Review Commission.

“China to date has compromised a range of U.S. networks, including those of the DoD, defense contractors, and private enterprises,” the report says adding that a 2012 Defense Science Board report identified dozens of critical system designs compromised by Chinese cyber actors.

The compromised weapons include the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 air defense system, the F-35 and the F/A-18 fighter aircraft, the P-8A reconnaissance aircraft, the Global Hawk UAV, the Black Hawk helicopter, the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, and the Littoral Combat Ship.

Additionally, Chinese hackers stole valuable information on defense technologies, including directed energy, the UAV video system, tactical data links, satellite communications, electronic warfare systems, and the electromagnetic aircraft launch system.

“In addition to stealing the designs of these weapon systems and technologies, China’s cyber actors targeted internal communications, program schedules, meeting minutes, and human resource records, among other documents,” the report said.

The cyber attacks from China have been a “godsend” to China’s modernization, the report said.

“Technological espionage has carried over into cyberspace, as the Chinese discovered that the Internet gave them unparalleled access to poorly secured western networks,” the report said.

The report said security specialists that monitoring Chinese cyber spying say the practice has not decreased in 2014 “despite a concerted U.S. effort since 2013 to expose and stigmatize Chinese economic espionage.”

The report dismissed the suggestion of some analysts that China will curb cyber spying as it becomes a status quo power in cyber space.

“The emergence of China as a truly status quo power in cyberspace is unlikely,” the report says. “China accrues vast benefits from penetrating foreign networks, and China’s strategic thinkers see the status quo in cyberspace as leaving China intolerably vulnerable due to the United States’ asymmetric control of the Internet’s core infrastructure.”

China’s benefits from cyber attacks are “immense” and thus will not be altered by small-scale U.S. actions in response to the problem.

The late draft of the report is currently being reviewed by the commission and a final version will be published in November.

Cyber Threat Briefs
Oct. 18, 2014