Congressman Confronts China over Cyber Espionage

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

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In opening statements prior to congressional testimony on Capital Hill Tuesday, Representative Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House intelligence committee,  called out the Chinese government for its practice of cyber espionage and the theft of intellectual property.

Representative Rogers called on Western governments "to confront Beijing and demand that they put a stop to this piracy.”

“Beijing is waging a massive trade war on us all, and we should band together to pressure them to stop. Combined, the United States and our allies in Europe and Asia have significant diplomatic and economic leverage over China, and we should use this to our advantage to put an end to this scourge,” Rogers stated.

Rogers noted that espionage operations which include the routine theft of corporate trade secrets and technology through the use of sophisticated attacks suggest that the Chinese government is orchestrating and coordinating the wholesale theft of information that will ultimately undermine U.S. companies' ability to compete economically.

“When you talk to these companies behind closed doors ... they describe attacks that originate in China, and have a level of sophistication and are clearly supported by a level of resources that can only be a nation-state entity,” Rogers said.

The sheer number and scale of the operations has some in the intelligence community in awe of the systematic approach being employed to steal some of the most sensitive information across multiple sectors, including government, defense, financial, and cutting edge technology interests.

“I say that as a professional intelligence officer, I step back in awe at the breath, depth, sophistication and persistence of the Chinese espionage effort against the United States of America,” said former director of the CIA and NSA Michael Hayden in testimony.

Other noted experts on cybersecurity have also been quite forward recently about pointing the finger at the Chinese Government.

In June, Richard Clarke, who served as an advisor on national security issues for three administrations, penned a rousing call to arms regarding the state of America's cyber security stance and the growing threats posed by Chinese cyber excursions.

"Senior U.S. officials know well that the government of China is systematically attacking the computer networks of the U.S. government and American corporations. Beijing is successfully stealing research and development, software source code, manufacturing know-how and government plans. In a global competition among knowledge-based economies, Chinese cyberoperations are eroding America's advantage," Clarke warns.

Recent reports link Chinese hackers to a multitude of operations directed at government and private enterprise targets, including:

The largest and perhaps most damaging operation in recent years were the Aurora attacks which targeted an unknown number of large firms, including Adobe, Northrop Grumman, Dow Chemical, Morgan Stanley, and most famously Google.

"Aurora wasn't an isolated event... Google renewed its charge against China, noting that the Gmail accounts of senior U.S. officials had been compromised from a server in China. The targeting of specific U.S. officials is not something that a mere hacker gang could do," said Clarke.

Clarke also gives a strong indication the he believes China was ultimately behind the network intrusion at EMC's security division RSA. The attack is believed to have been orchestrated on order to compromise RSA's SeucrID product, which is used to prevent unauthorized access to network systems, and is used by the government, military, financial, enterprise, healthcare and insurance companies.

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