By Rebecca Sausner
The issue of China's cyberwarfare capabilities is intricately linked to
the status of Taiwan. A quick brushup on foreign policy: the U.S. has
pledged to defend Taiwan if China makes good on its long-held desire to
reunite with the renegade island. In the event that conflict erupts over
Taiwan, which is a common assumption, "the U.S. government can expect
very specific attacks to be launched against very specific military and
government targets, as well as economic targets," says Rick Fisher, vp
at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, a Virginia-based
think tank specializing in defense and security issues.
There are those who argue that the increased cyber incursions we've seen
of late are reconnaissance for just such an incursion. Their evidence?
The targets that have reportedly been infiltrated by Chinese hackers
within the last 18 months include: the Non-classified Internet Protocol
Router Network, or NIPRnet, the Energy Department, the Commerce
Department's Bureau of Industry and Security, the State Department, and
The Naval War College. Last summer Maj. Gen. William Lord, director of
information, services and integration in the AirForce's Office of
Warfighting Integration and CIO, reportedly said China had downloaded 10
to 20 terabytes of data from NIPRnet, the unencrypted network the
military uses for many logistic functions.
Prominent Chinese military writers view information operations and
computer network operations as worthy "supplements to conventional war
fighting capability and powerful asymmetric options for overcoming the
superior with the inferior," according to James Mulvenon, Deputy
Director, Advanced Analysis at Defense Group Inc.'s Center for
Intelligence Research and Analysis, who was speaking to the U.S. China
Economic and Security Review Commission.
Fisher lays out this scenario: Imagine a network incursion that
reprogrammed traffic lights in Hawaii, leaving them red for hours just
as the Chinese began their invasion of Taiwan. This could "cause a
simple kind of chaos that would prevent the mobilization of American
Naval forces," from Pearl Harbor, Fisher postulates.
Or, imagine a more sinister scenario in which China disables American
global positioning satellites, throwing our navigation and logistics
into chaos. This scenario seemed a little far-fetched, until the news
broke in January that China had used a missile to shoot down and
orbiting satellite. "That would be a military catastrophe," Fisher says.
In the Taiwan scenario military experts disagree about whether civilian
targets-like the payments systems, or online banking sites-would be part
of the attack vector. Some say our networks and markets would be at
risk, but Mulvenon points to Chinese military writings that postulate a
widespread attack against civilian infrastructure would "stiffen the
back of a high tech enemy" and make war against China over Taiwan more
palatable to the American public.
(c) 2007 Bank Technology News and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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