A very interesting analysis by this fellow of the recently released report to Congress (available here
) regarding the security threat that China poses to the US military...
By Adam Segal
March 10, 2012
Yesterday, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission released the second report prepared for it by Northrop Grumman on Chinese cyber capabilities. As numerous press reports noted, Occupying the Information High Ground argues that Chinas improving cyber capabilities pose a threat to the United States military, that China could target U.S. logistic and transport networks in the case of a regional conflict, and that Chinese IT companies ZTE, Datang, and Huawei all have close collaborative ties with the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA).
The report does a good job of bringing a great deal of Chinese-language and open-source information together, and is especially useful in laying out how information security research is funded in and conducted by military and civilian universities. Much of the discussion, however, about how China thinks about computer network operations, the growing links between defense and civilian industries, and the threats to the supply chain has been done before (James Mulvenon is particularly good on Chinese thinking about seizing the information advantage and the digital triangle; Tai Ming Cheungs Fortifying China is an exhaustive study of Chinas efforts to build a dual-use industrial base; and CFR held a workshop on some of the vulnerabilities that stem from sourcing hardware and software from all over the world in January 2011).
The specific findings of the report are useful and important, but we should remind ourselves of four things. First, its easy to forget that much in the report is about aspirations, what the PLA hopes to accomplish, and that we are less certain about how capable it truly is. The report doesnt shy away from this point, quoting senior PLA officials who provide blunt assessments of the shortcomings still being experienced and who suggest there are contradictions between the Chinese and Western media portrayal of PLA operational success in training with a different reality on the ground. The gap between aspirations and capability is often lost in the report through a stream of descriptions of what PLA writings say the Chinese military could or might want to do to U.S. networks. By contrast, Desmond Ball of Australia National University argues that Chinas cyber-warfare authorities must despair at the breadth and depth of modern digital information and communications systems and technical expertise available to their adversaries.
...article continues at Cyberwar Central