[ISN] CIA: China planning cyber-attacks on U.S., Taiwan

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Thu Apr 25 2002 - 01:15:16 PDT

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    [For a peek at what the Chinese might have in store for a rainy day,
    you might be interested to look at Unrestricted Warfare, which has
    been called a blueprint for future Chinese aggression. One just has to
    hope that if the CIA is right on the money with the prediction of
    attacks, that U.S. and Allied crackers don't turn this into the
    pissing match it was this time last year.  - WK
    Unrestricted Warfare: http://www.c4i.org/unrestricted.pdf
    Cyberwar? More Like Hot Air:
    http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,43520,00.html ]
    By Eric Lichtblau
    Los Angeles Times
    Wed, Apr. 24, 2002
    WASHINGTON - U.S. intelligence officials believe the Chinese military 
    is working to launch wide-scale cyber-attacks on American and 
    Taiwanese computer networks, including Internet-linked military 
    systems considered vulnerable to sabotage, according to a classified 
    CIA report.
    Moreover, U.S. authorities are bracing for a possible wave of hacking 
    attacks by Chinese students against the United States in coming weeks, 
    according to the analysis. The confidential alert, which was reviewed 
    by the Los Angeles Times, was sent to intelligence officials a week 
    Although U.S. officials have voiced concerns about individual hackers 
    in China who have defaced federal and private Web sites, the United 
    States has resisted publicly linking the Chinese government to those 
    attacks or to broader cyber-style warfare.
    Eye on authorities
    The new CIA report, however, makes clear that U.S. intelligence 
    analysts have become increasingly concerned that authorities in 
    Beijing are actively planning to damage and disrupt U.S. computer 
    systems through the use of Internet hacking and computer viruses.
    Although the assessment concludes that China has not yet acquired the 
    technical sophistication to do broad damage to U.S. and Taiwanese 
    systems, it maintains that this is the ``intended goal'' of the 
    People's Liberation Army in China. ``The mission of Chinese special 
    forces includes physical sabotage'' of vulnerable systems, the report 
    says -- a sign that some analysts say is driven by China's hostility 
    toward Taiwan.
    The Chinese Embassy in Washington insisted Wednesday, however, that 
    Beijing is only conducting computer research that is strictly 
    defensive in nature.
    ``It is not the Chinese government's policy to disrupt the computer 
    system of any other country,'' said Larry Wu, an embassy official.
    ``We do research on the security of computers, of course -- 
    self-defense to understand how a hacker can get into our computer 
    systems so we can defend it,'' he said. ``But China has never assumed 
    an offensive stance with regards to computer technology.''
    But several specialists in security and military affairs said the 
    CIA's conclusions jibe with their own observations about China's 
    research into offensive-minded cyber-tools.
    ``We should be very worried about this issue,'' said James Mulvenon, a 
    China analyst at the Rand think tank, who has extensively studied 
    Chinese computer capabilities.
    Taiwan, which China regards as a renegade province, appears to be the 
    driving force behind the Chinese interest in hacking and viruses, 
    Mulvenon said. Under one scenario, if China were to make good on its 
    longstanding threat to invade Taiwan, the Chinese military could then 
    seek to deploy widespread computer disruptions against American and 
    Taiwanese military systems to slow any effort by U.S. forces to 
    intervene in Taiwan's defense, he said.
    The issue threatens to inflame what are invariably tense relations 
    between the United States and the communist government in China, 
    relations already frayed by a volley of charges and countercharges 
    over alleged nuclear, military and political espionage.
    Relations hit a low point last year after a U.S. spy plane collided 
    with a Chinese jet fighter, triggering an international standoff over 
    the return of the plane's 24 Navy crew members. China detained them 
    for 11 days and returned the disassembled plane months later.
    Taiwan factor
    Recent months have seen a warming in relations as the Bush 
    administration secured China's cooperation in the war on terrorism. 
    But China has become upset by what it sees as the White House's 
    increasingly favorable overtures toward Taiwan.
    The CIA's assessment discusses both Taiwan and the United States, 
    revealing that U.S. intelligence officials believe both are targets of 
    the Chinese military.
    ``The People's Liberation Army does not yet have the capability to 
    carry out its intended goal of disrupting Taiwanese military and 
    civilian infrastructures or U.S. military logistics using 
    computer-virus attacks,'' said the CIA.
    ``China's virus-attack capabilities are similar to those of 
    sophisticated hackers and are limited to temporary disruption of 
    sectors that use the Internet,'' the report said.
    A government official who also asked not to be identified cautioned, 
    however, that the immediate threat posed by Chinese computer 
    disruptions is fairly limited.
    ``This is something we're certainly concerned about. But in terms of 
    their being able to disrupt Taiwan or U.S. military and civilian 
    infrastructure, they can't do it yet. That's the story.''
    "Communications without intelligence is noise;  Intelligence
    without communications is irrelevant." Gen Alfred. M. Gray, USMC
    C4I.org - Computer Security, & Intelligence - http://www.c4i.org
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