America is facing many challenges these days – a struggling economy, an adaptive terrorist threat, an elected Congress that can’t seem to get anything done. Yet, one issue that receives too little public attention is the blatant use of hackers by China to steal U.S. intellectual property, defense technology, and other data critical to national security and competitiveness.
China is one of America’s biggest competitors, and they (hackers, Chinese corporations and the Chinese government) clearly have no problem penetrating U.S. public and private sector networks to leapfrog over the years of hard work and innovation it took to develop our current technological capabilities.
Are we not outraged? Where is the public cry for China to get out of our networks? What will it take for businesses and the public to wake up to what is happening? China is robbing us blind and through our weak cybersecurity practices, we are letting it happen.
Here is Part 1 of a piece I wrote on the cyber threat from China.
For centuries, there was a form of execution in China where a condemned person was methodically and slowly cut with a knife until their eventual death. The Chinese word for that torture is Ling Chi, which translates to “Death by 1,000 cuts.” China invented it. Today, U.S. businesses are suffering similar abuse through cyber attacks originating in the People’s Republic.
Thousands of U.S. businesses are routinely penetrated by cyber criminals who make off with proprietary information and sensitive data. There are several culprits in the cyber onslaught against U.S. business, but hackers in China are the most prolific and present the most urgent need for action. At least one expert has said that all major U.S. companies have had their networks penetrated at some point by hackers in China.
If this criminal enterprise and espionage was conducted in person rather than via a computer, citizens and businesses might better understand what is happening to the United States in the cyber realm. The private sector is being robbed of intellectual property and spied on by America’s biggest competitors.
Imagine lines of industrial and corporate spies walking unfettered out of U.S. businesses, pilfered company secrets in hand. This is no different than what hackers are doing digitally at an increasing rate. With viruses, phishing e-mails and other tactics, hackers access detailed R&D and business data. The U.S. private sector is facing thousands of cuts that are slashing away the competitive advantages hard-earned through American innovation.
Daggers are Already Drawn
There is unfortunately a good deal of public uncertainty about the severity of the cyber threat. Hacktivist groups (like Anonymous), while capable and often discussed in the media, are somewhat less interested in capitalizing on corporate and industrial secrets. Chinese hackers, however, are focused on stealing profitable business data, and they operate within a country aggressively pursuing a strategic policy of catching up with the United States and other Western nations, particularly in terms of technological capabilities. Begun in 1986, Beijing’s Project 863 gives funding and guidance to “clandestinely acquire U.S. technology and sensitive economic information,” according to a report from the National Counterintelligence Executive’s Office. Chinese hackers fit perfectly within this state objective.
Read Part 1 of the full story.