[ISN] Cyberattacks aimed at U.S

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Thu Jun 25 1998 - 18:04:11 PDT

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    Forwarded From: "Prosser, Mike" <Mike_Prosserat_private>
    CIA: Cyberattacks aimed at U.S.
    By Reuters
    Special to CNET NEWS.COM
    June 25, 1998, 5:25 a.m. PT
    WASHINGTON--China and other countries have begun to focus on U.S.
    computer networks as a target for possible high-tech attacks that could
    cripple anything from telephones to electricity, CIA Director George
    Tenet said yesterday.
    As President Clinton left for a state visit aimed at strengthening ties
    with Beijing, Tenet told a Senate panel that the magnitude of the threat
    from a wide range of potential foes, notably China by implication, was
    "extraordinary." He cited the danger of intrusion into networked
    information systems, tampering with data, and "delivery of malicious
    "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 giving
    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 as building a
    contemporary Maginot Line," the French fortification that Germany skirted
    in World War II. 
    Taken as a whole, Tenet's comments sounded a sour note as Clinton set off
    on a trip designed to promote what administration officials call a
    hoped-for "strategic partnership" with Communist-ruled China. 
    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
    "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
    cyberattacks...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." 
    According to "Strategic Trends in China," published this month by the
    Pentagon's National Defense University, Chinese military officials believe
    that the United States relies on satellites for 90 percent of its combat
    information and communications. Targeting these satellites "could cripple
    the United States at a low cost to China," the book summarized Chinese
    commanders as thinking. 
    Tenet 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," he said. 
    Air Force Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minihan, head of the ultrasecretive National
    Security Agency, testified to the same panel that attacks against U.S. 
    networks were occurring "every day." "We are only seeing the tip of the
    iceberg," he said. "Even when attacks are detected and reported, we rarely
    know who the attacker was." 
    Tenet identified potential cyberattackers 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 National Defense University
    who wrote a Pentagon 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. 
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