U.S. cyber warrior accuses China of targeting Pentagon

WASHINGTON Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:23pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Cyber Command's top intelligence officer accused China on Thursday of persistent efforts to pierce Pentagon computer networks and said a proposal was moving forward to boost the cyber command in the U.S. military hierarchy.

"Their level of effort against the Department of Defense is constant" while alleged Chinese attempts to steal corporate trade secrets has been growing, Rear Admiral Samuel Cox, the command's director of intelligence, told Reuters after remarks to a forum on the history of cyber threats.

The Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, a U.S. intelligence arm, said in a landmark report a year ago that "Chinese actors are the world's most persistent perpetrators of economic espionage."

"It's continuing apace," Cox said. "In fact, I'd say it's still accelerating." He accused China of trying to "exfiltrate" Pentagon secrets, jargon for sneaking them out.

Asked whether any classified U.S. networks had been successfully penetrated - something not publicly known to have occurred - Cox replied: "I can't really get into that."

A spokesman for the Chinese embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In the past Chinese officials have denied such accusations.

Cyber Command is responsible for defending Defense Department networks as well as mounting any U.S. offensive operations in cyberspace. It was created about two years ago as a unit of the U.S. Strategic Command, the outfit responsible for U.S. nuclear and space operations.

Cox said a proposal was moving forward to elevate the cyberwarfare unit to the status of a full unified combatant command. This would put it on the same footing as its parent Strategic Command and the Defense Department's eight other top-level military units.

The matter was headed to the secretary of defense and the president for a decision that possibly would come by the end of the year, he said.

Cox spoke after telling a conference hosted by the Atlantic Council think tank that the overall sophistication and danger of cyber threats is increasing at "an accelerating rate, not a linear rate."

"So the potential for these things to do destructive damage is very high," he said.

The United States is among the few countries reliably reported to have mounted a destructive keyboard-launched attack - against Iran's disputed nuclear centrifuges using malicious code known as Stuxnet that surfaced in 2010.

Army General Keith Alexander, who simultaneously heads Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, told a forum in July that unspecified foreign countries, hackers and criminal gangs contributed to a 17-fold jump in cyber attacks on U.S. infrastructure from 2009 to 2011.

Promoting Cyber Command in the military hierarchy would simplify its operations in cyberspace and boost its ability to work directly with U.S. government agencies, allies and coalition partners.

(Additional reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Jim Loney)

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Comments (6)
AdamSmith wrote:
Cyber security? As a nation?

We’re supposed to care, as a nation, about cyber-security, when our American government and American military don’t care in the slightest about the massive immigration which is allowing the carcass of middle class America to be eaten away in broad daylight by the people immigrating here from other nations, today, on a massive scale?

There is no other country in the world that is allowing foreigners to enter at will, like America has been doing for the last twelve years.

There are giant cities all over the world, brimming with impoverished people and wealthy people, both. All of them, both the impoverished foreigner and the rich foreigner, are being allowed to feast on the carcass of America. The only precedent would be the fall of Rome.

Impoverished immigrants, accustomed to living in slums of giant foreign cities, and mud huts of foreign villages, are flooding into America, willing to work for any wage, and thus driving down American wages.

Seldom mentioned in public is the fact that they have sharply driven up American rents, adding more and more distress to American middle class renters. Young Americans are paying exhorbitant rents in every American city because of the huge influg of immigrants.

But the influx of poor immigrants is only part of the story. The wealthy classes from the same foreign countries (literally all foreign countries) are bringing their ill-begotten money to America and buying up American real estate at an unprecedented rate.

Foreigners are buying not just Manhattan and Miami trophy condominiums, but small properties on, literally, almost every corner in every city and town in America.

The Obama administration is talking about cyber security, but I ask, why? Why do they care about cyber-security when we openly allow the whole world to march in every day and feast on our nation’s carcass?

In whose interest are we governed?

The immigration into America over the last 12 years is the greatest defeat, the greatest destruction to our American lives, our livelihoods and our future, that America has every experienced. It has been far more destructive than if 10 nuclear bombs were dropped on us.

If this failure to protect our borders is not treason, then what is treason?

Cyber command? You’re just part of the system that serves the many American based multinational corporations who control congress. The American based multinational corporations you defend sold out the American citizen 12 years ago, and have become our greatest enemies, feeding on us as fodder.

Sep 27, 2012 9:51pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
zhubajie wrote:
ECHELON, CARNIVORE, MAGIC LANTERN, INFRAGARD, PROMIS, Stuxnet, the Flame worm, Microsoft diddling with SKYPE code. The list just goes on. Data collection without permission (if anyone else does it you’d call it stealing), hacking, physically and maliciously destroying the equipment and networks of others, done on a scale 100 times larger than that of the rest of the world put together, and for much longer periods of time. There is no major fiber optic undersea cable going into or out of any country that has NOT been hacked by Americans.

What is good must be universal. America should show the world leadership and stop, and the world would follow.

Sep 27, 2012 12:49am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Erkable wrote:
@Adam Smith — Just the one issue in your life?

Sep 29, 2012 4:48pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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