Chinese cyber exploits target government intelligence, says DoD report

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In its annual report on the Chinese military, the Defense Department acknowledged May 6 that network intrusions, which "appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military," led to the breach of government systems for the purpose of information gathering.

"China is using its computer network exploitation (CNE) capability to support intelligence collection against the U.S. diplomatic, economic, and defense industrial base sectors that support U.S. national defense programs," says the DoD report (.pdf) to Congress.

The information targeted could help the Chinese military build a picture of U.S. defense networks, logistics and capabilities that could be exploited during a crisis, adds the report.

China's growing cyberwarfare capabilities could help it collect data for attack purposes, constrain an adversary's actions or slow response or be coupled with kinetic attacks as a force multiplier, says the report.  

The report cites several Peoples Liberation Army writings that indicate information warfare as an integral component to Chinese military strategy. The PLA also identifies electronic warfare--which leverages radio, radar, optical, infrared and microwave frequencies--as a way to minimize any U.S. technological advantages and considers it as important as traditional ground, sea, and air forces, says the report.

"The advances in research and deployment of electronic warfare weapons are being tested in these exercises and have proven effective. These EW weapons include jamming equipment against multiple communication and radar systems and GPS satellite systems," write report authors.

"EW systems are also being deployed with other sea and air-based platforms intended for both offensive and defensive operations," they add.

China's defense industry has made advances in cyberwarfare in large part because it is so closely integrated with its expanding civilian economy and science and technology sectors, "particularly sectors with access to foreign technology," says the report.

For more:
- download the report, "Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China" (.pdf)

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