A report in the US accuses China and Russia of being the major players in the espionage game against the US
Russia and China have been accused of being the “most aggressive collectors” of US economic and technology secrets, as the cyber cold-war heats up.
In a report published by the US Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, recent cyber attacks are evaluated in the light of nation versus nation espionage. The report not only picks out Russia and China as major players but also indicates that the country’s allies are also hacking its systems.
“China and Russia view themselves as strategic competitors of the United States and are the most aggressive collectors of US economic information and technology. Other countries with close ties to the United States have conducted CNE [computer network exploitation] and other forms of intelligence collection to obtain the US economic and technology data, often taking advantage of the access they enjoyed as allies or partners to collect sensitive military data and information on other programmes,” the report states.
Both China and Russia always strongly deny any involvement in political or economic hacking activities. But the report particularly singles out China as a major source of attacks. The Wall Street Journal reported that a Chinese Embassy spokesman in Washington called the charges “unwarranted allegations” that were part of a “demonising effort against China”.
In a recent series of attacks against Google, codenamed Operation Aurora, the company openly stated that it believed the source of the attacks to be China.
James Bond goes virtual
The Foreign Spies Stealing US Economic Secrets in Cyberspace study makes it clear that the Internet has become a major conduit for espionage activity.
“Cyberspace makes possible the near instantaneous transfer of enormous quantities of economic and other information. Until fairly recently, economic espionage often required the insiders pass large volumes of documents to their handlers in physical form – a lengthy process of collection, collation, transportation, and exploitation.”
The report goes on to point out that the use of the Internet offers security the hackers and to any insiders who may be recruited. Even when audits and other security measures like the fact that illicit information is being transferred from a corporate network, an internal spy can quickly and safely transfer data once it is copied onto a portable storage device.
The already-strained relationship between the US and China will be stretched even further by this report.