We are at war with China. Most Americans don’t realize it and high level government officials will not admit it publicly, but the Chinese are actively monitoring and compromising critical components of our nation’s infrastructure including water and electric utilities, military assets, and commerce.
While bullets and missiles may not be flying over conventional battlefields just yet, soldiers on the digital battlefield are no doubt engaged in conflict. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos reports on the latest infiltration, which involved some three million accounts being compromised at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:
There’s a war going on every day that you may not know about and today we learned a lot more about it.
China striking at the heart of our economy. Iconic American companies like Ford and Google – the Pentagon too.
Spies from China have also infiltrated the computers of America’s largest business organization. One with millions of members and they’re stealing corporate secrets worth thousands of jobs and billions of dollars.
In September the Wall Street Journal reported that cyberspies from Russia and China “have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, according to current and former national-security officials.” In October DHS Deputy Undersecretary Greg Schaffer warned that there have been intrusions into essential infrastructure systems, and the same day we published this report we learned that the U.S. military’s drone fleet was infected with an unknown virus.
And while China is actively working to gain access to data and even control physical elements of our private, public and military networks, they have also been taking direct aim at our economic, financial and foreign policy, as well as intellectual property.
ABC News continues:
For more than a year, hackers with ties to the Chinese military have been eavesdropping on U.S. Chamber of Commerce officials involved in Asia affairs, authorities say.
The hackers had access to everything in Chamber computers, including, potentially, the entire U.S. trade policy playbook.
“The Chinese have attacked every major U.S. company, every government agency, and NGO’s. Their attacking the Chamber of Commerce is part of a pattern of their attacking everything in the US. If you’re working on U.S.-China relations with an NGO, government agency, you can be sure the Chinese are reading your emails and on your computer,” Richard Clarke, former White House counter-terrorism adviser, told ABC News.
At one point, the penetration into the Chamber of Commerce was so complete that a Chamber thermostat was communicating with a computer in China. Another time, chamber employees were surprised to see one of their printers printing in Chinese.
“You stack all of that up and I think there’s a case to be made that this may be the greatest transfer of wealth through theft and piracy in the history of the world and we are on the losing end of it,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.
Overall, the U.S. is hemorrhaging economic espionage to the tune of $250 billion.
“This is a national, long-term strategic threat to the United States of America. This is an issue where a failure is not an option,” said Robert Bryant at the National Counterintelligence Executive.
By all accounts, our systems are under attack. These intrusions are not being initiated by loosely knit groups of hackers. The sophistication of the attacks, that they originate from China, and the fact they target critical components and nodes of the entire infrastructure of the United States, strongly suggests these activities are state sponsored. Considering that the average Chinese citizen can’t even access a blog that is critical of internal politics or policy due to heavy monitoring and restrictions by the Chinese government, we find it hard to believe that the thousands of attacks against the United States are not being directly controlled by the Chinese military. If China wanted to stop hackers, they should have no problems doing so on their networks.
China, of course, denies the allegations, and we have found no reports of hackers originating from China ever being arrested for these activities. Yet another indication that it is the Chinese government and military that is behind the infiltration.
Piece by piece, node by node, the Chinese are mapping our systems. They may already be dropping trojans, viruses and malware onto these systems, just in case this warm-war ever goes hot.
Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy recently warned that a cyber attack targeted at our electrical grid would be devastating. Similar to an EMP detonation over US airspace, a coordinated attack on our grid could potentially lead to domestic casualties of 90% as critical transportation, food, water treatment, power generation and law enforcement infrastructure crashed.
This is a serious threat, and one that if executed quickly and with brute force, could reportedly take down our entire country in less than 15 minutes once initiated.
In the event of a serious disagreement with China, say over resources in the middle east, monetary policy or trade agreements, the first shots to be fired may not involve ICBM’s. They may focus directly on the computer systems like those that make commerce and the American way of life possible. The target will be the US population and the mission will be maximum confusion, chaos and panic.