[IWAR] CIA says China and others focus on U.S. computer flaws

From: William Knowles (erehwonat_private)
Date: Wed Jun 24 1998 - 13:44:44 PDT

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    WASHINGTON (June 24, 1998 3:04 p.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) 
    China and others have begun to focus on U.S. commercial computer
    networks' vulnerability to prepare for any future conflict, CIA
    Director George Tenet told a Senate committee Wednesday. Testifying 
    as President Clinton left for a state visit aimed at strengthening 
    ties with Beijing, Tenet said the magnitude of the threat from a 
    wide range of potential foes, by implication including China, was
    He cited the danger of various forms of intrusion into networked
    information systems, tampering and "delivery of malicious code."
    "We know with specificity of several nations that are working on
    developing an information warfare capability," the chief U.S.
    spymaster told the Governmental Affairs Committee.
    Through high-tech attacks, "information warfare" would exploit 
    growing reliance on the bits and bytes that weave modern societies 
    together for everything from telecommunications to power grids 
    and banking.
    "It is clear that nations developing these programs recognize 
    the value of attacking a country's computer systems both on the
    battlefield and in the civilian arena," Tenet added.
    He quoted statements from officials in China, Russia and an 
    unnamed third country to "illustrate the power and the import 
    of information warfare in the decades ahead."
    "An adversary wishing to destroy the United States only has to 
    mess up the computer systems of its banks by high-tech means," 
    Tenet quoted an article in China's official "People's Liberation 
    Daily" as saying.
    Without providing the date of the Chinese article, he went on to 
    cite it: "This would disrupt and destroy the U.S. economy. If we 
    overlook this point and simply rely on the building of a costly 
    army...it is just as good building a contemporary Maginot Line," 
    the French fortification that Germany skirted in World War II.
    U.S. concern over China as a potential foe is not new. Analysts 
    at the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment, the U.S. defense 
    secretary's in-house think-tank, published a paper this year 
    titled "Dangerous Chinese Misperceptions." In it, they pointed 
    to what they called a Chinese hope to "leapfrog" the technology 
    advances of U.S. armed forces.
    In his prepared testimony, Tenet said unspecified foreign countries
    had begun to include information warfare in their military doctrine 
    as well as their war college curricula "with respect to both 
    offensive and defensive applications."
    "Many of the countries whose information warfare efforts we follow
    realize that in a conventional military confrontation against the
    U.S., they cannot prevail," he said.
    "These countries recognize that cyber attacks...against civilian
    computer systems in the U.S. represent the kind of asymmetric 
    option they will need to 'level the playing field' during an armed 
    crisis against the United States."
    He said the "battle space" of the information age would "surely"
    extend to U.S. domestic infrastructure. "Our electric power grids 
    and our telecommunications networks will be targets of the 
    first order."
    Tenet said many nations, including several potential U.S. 
    adversaries, were reviewing their own growing dependence on 
    civilian and military information systems to pinpoint 
    vulnerabilities and try to patch them.
    "We must do the same," he said. "If not, we could soon find 
    ourselves at a significant disadvantage in addressing what may 
    be the key security challenge of the next decade."
    Tenet identified potential cyber-attackers as comprising 
    everyone from foreign nations' intelligence and militaries 
    to guerrilla forces, criminals, industrial competitors, hackers 
    and disgruntled people.
    Michael Pillsbury, a research fellow at the Pentagon's National
    Defense University who wrote an Office of Net Assessment Study 
    of China's interest in information warfare, said Beijing had the 
    world's largest program of its type. "Judging by their military 
    writings, they are saying that information warfare is the core of 
    what they want to do," he said in a telephone interview. "This way 
    they can leap over the obsolescence of their tanks, ships and aircraft 
    and focus on the vulnerability of high-tech forces like those of the 
    United States" and Taiwan, which China regards as a wayward province.
    There's a compelling reason to master information & news.
    Clearly there will be better job and financial opportunites.
    Other high stakes will be missed by people if they don't
    master and connect information.  --  Everette Dennis

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