China Reveals Its Cyberwar Secrets

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A high-level Chinese military organization has for the first time formally acknowledged that the country’s military and its intelligence community have specialized units for waging war on computer networks.
China’s hacking exploits, particularly those aimed at stealing trade secrets from US companies, have been well known for years, and a source of constant tension between Washington and Beijing. But Chinese officials have routinely dismissed allegations that they spy on American corporations or have the ability to damage critical infrastructure, such as electrical power grids and gas pipelines, via cyber attacks.
Now it appears that China has dropped the charade. “This is the first time we’ve seen an explicit acknowledgement of the existence of China’s secretive cyber-warfare forces from the Chinese side,” says Joe McReynolds, who researches the country’s network warfare strategy, doctrine, and capabilities at the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis. 
The acknowledgment could have political and diplomatic implications for China’s relationship with the United States and other Western powers.  
China has divided its cyber warfare forces into three types, said McReynolds, whose analysis is included in his forthcoming book, China’s Evolving Military Strategy, which will be published in October.
First, there are what the Chinese call “specialized military network warfare forces” consisting of operational military units “employed for carrying out network attack and defense,” McReynolds said.
Second, China has teams of specialists in civilian organizations that “have been authorized by the military to carry out network warfare operations.” Those civilian organizations include the Ministry of State Security, or MSS, which is essentially China’s version of CIA, and the Ministry of Public Security (its FBI).
Finally, there are “external entities” outside the government “that can be organized and mobilized for network warfare operations,” McReynolds said.
As to which of those groups is responsible for targeting American companies to steal their secrets, the short answer, says McReynolds: “They all do it.” Espionage by the PLA has been extensively documented, McReynolds said. And a Chinese hacking unit dubbed Axiom that has been linked to intrusions against Fortune 500 companies, journalists, and pro-democracy groups is reportedly an MSS actor. He noted that there are also many ways that Chinese civilians have been seen assisting in industrial espionage, including through “hack-for-cash” operations.
Now that China is coming clean about its cyber warfare forces, other countries may question whether they can safely cooperate with the government on combating cybercrime. The Ministry of Public Security (MPS), for instance, has assisted more than 50 countries with investigations of more than a thousands cases of cybercrime over the past decade, and China has set up bilateral law enforcement cooperation with more than 30 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Russia.
Experts generally agree that Russia, China, and the United States have the most advanced and sophisticated cyber warfare forces. 
The Daily Beast http://bbc.in/1OyIa0a

 

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