China aims to top U.S. in cyberspace: U.S. general

China aims to top U.S. in cyberspace: U.S. general
China aims to top U.S. in cyberspace: U.S. general 

By Jim Wolfwed
13 June 2007

China is seeking to unseat the United States as the dominant power in 
cyberspace, a U.S. Air Force general leading a new push in this area 
said Wednesday.

"They're the only nation that has been quite that blatant about saying, 
'We're looking to do that,"' 8th Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Robert 
Elder told reporters.

Elder is to head a new three-star cyber command being set up at 
Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, already home to about 25,000 
military personnel involved in everything from electronic warfare to 
network defense.

The command's focus is to control the cyber domain, critical to 
everything from communications to surveillance to infrastructure 

"We have peer competitors right now in terms of doing computer network 
attack ... and I believe we're going to be able to ratchet up our 
capability," Elder said. "We're going to go way ahead."

The Defense Department said in its annual report on China's military 
power last month that China regarded computer network operations -- 
attacks, defense and exploitation -- as critical to achieving 
"electromagnetic dominance" early in a conflict.

China's People's Liberation Army has established information warfare 
units to develop viruses to attack enemy computer systems and networks, 
the Pentagon said.

China also was investing in electronic countermeasures and defenses 
against electronic attack, including infrared decoys, angle reflectors 
and false-target generators, it said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry rejected the U.S. report as "brutal 
interference" in China's internal affairs and insisted Beijing's 
military preparations were purely defensive.

Elder described the bulk of current alleged Chinese cyber-operations as 
industrial espionage aimed at stealing trade secrets to save years of 
high-tech development.

He attributed the espionage to a mix of criminals, hackers and 
"nation-state" forces. Virtually all potential U.S. foes also were 
scanning U.S. networks for trade and defense secrets, he added.

"Everyone but North Korea," he said. "We've concluded that there must be 
only one laptop in all of North Korea -- and that guy's not allowed to 
scan" overseas networks, Elder said.

In October, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff defined cyberspace as 
"characterized by the use of electronics and the electromagnetic 
spectrum to store, modify, and exchange data via networked systems and 
associated physical infrastructures."

The definition is broad enough to cover far more than merely defending 
or attacking computer networks. Other concerns include remotely 
detonated roadside bombs in Iraq, interference with Global Positioning 
Satellites and satellite communications, Internet financial transactions 
by adversaries, and radar and navigational jamming.

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