"Computer spies have broken into the Pentagon's $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter project -- the Defense Department's costliest weapons program ever -- according to current and former government officials familiar with the attacks.
"Similar incidents have also breached the Air Force's air-traffic-control system in recent months, these people say. In the case of the fighter-jet program, the intruders were able to copy and siphon off several terabytes of data related to design and electronics systems....
"The latest intrusions provide new evidence that a battle is heating up between the U.S. and potential adversaries over the data networks that tie the world together. The revelations follow a recent Wall Street Journal report that computers used to control the U.S. electrical-distribution system, as well as other infrastructure, have also been infiltrated by spies abroad.
"Attacks like these -- or U.S. awareness of them -- appear to have escalated in the past six months, said one former official briefed on the matter. 'There's never been anything like it,' this person said, adding that other military and civilian agencies as well as private companies are affected. 'It's everything that keeps this country going.'..." (WSJ)
On the other hand, I'm rather glad that Americans can read this sort of not-entirely-complimentary news about their country. Which is another topic.
Several terabytes of weapons system data in the hands of a potential enemy isn't a good thing, no matter how much value is put on "transparency." Worse, I think, is the possibility that North America's power grid could be shut down.
We've had blackouts before, notably in 1965, 1977, and 2003. To everyone except conspiracy theorists, those were accidents: and involved a fraction of the power grid. I don't think it's at all impossible that a coordinated, willful, effort to compromise the grid would be more effective than a single breaker near Niagara tripping at the wrong time.
"Cold War Mentality" and the Real WorldMuch of the article is old news.
America's military, taking their mandate to protect the country seriously, has noted that China is been steadily improving its online warfare capability. And, that a number of recent attacks point at China.
China's government says 'did not!'
As The Wall Street Journal put it:
"...The Chinese Embassy said in a statement that China 'opposes and forbids all forms of cyber crimes.' It called the Pentagon's report 'a product of the Cold War mentality' and said the allegations of cyber espionage are 'intentionally fabricated to fan up China threat sensations.' ..." (WSJ)
That's probably the line that Americans who like to appear sophisticated and/or open minded will take. Again, nothing new.
There's a War on, PeopleDespite the White House officially removing "war on terror" from America's authorized lexicon, there are sill quite a few organizations which want to kill Americans and change this country: violently.
That may not be a "war," officially, but it's going to feel like one no matter how nicely its described.
The Chinese connection with these cyberattacks doesn't surprise me at all. China is certainly not an Islamic country: but as I've written quite often, not all terrorists are Muslims. And China's leaders could easily see Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and similar groups as useful allies.
I think there's reason to believe that China's leadership wants to extend its influence beyond the borders of China and Tibet - or Xizang province, as China calls the country, now that it's been "liberated" and made part of China.
I do not agree with the official Chinese position, that the American military's assessment of the Chinese threat is "Cold War mentality." I have more respect for China's leaders than that. I see China as a large country which has not yet succeeded in decimating its own population: a country with significant technical capabilities, a potentially strong economy, significant natural resources, and an understandable desire for a place of prominence in the world.
I have no problem with China becoming a major economic power, provided that the Chinese markets are comparatively open.
However, there's good reason to suppose that China may be trying to assert itself the old-fashioned way: through raw power, intimidation, and sabotage. This, I have a problem with.
- "Chinese Anti-Carrier Missile: Cause for Concern"
(March 31, 2009)
- "Sounds of Silence: 2009"
(March 31, 2009)
- "No More 'War on Terror' - Officially?"
(March 30, 2009)
- "Cyberspy Network Hacked 103 Countries' Systems"
(March 29, 2009)
- "Tibet: Fifty Years of Chinese Liberation, and Counting"
(March 10, 2009)
- "Marine One Plans in Tehran - File Sharing Software and Sloppiness"
(March 1, 2009)
- "Conservation, Crispy Koalas, and Common Sense"
(February 14, 2009)
- "The New York Times Banned in China"
(December 20, 2008)
- "Chinese Navy to Somali Waters - Time Running out for Somalia?"
(December 18, 2008)
- This is good news of a sort: China has a long maritime history, and has a strong national interest regarding Somali piracy.
- "McCain Campaign BlackBerrys Sold at Bargain-Basement Prices - Confidential Data Included: What's the Matter With People These Days?!"
(December 15, 2008)
- "Worm Spreading Fast in Pentagon Computers: (not) in the News"
(November 21, 2008)
- "Pentagon Hacked, Removable Media Banned: Cyberattack Hits American Military"
(November 20, 2008)
- "White House Computers Hacked, Probably by China: News That's Not Fit to Print?"
(November 9, 2008)
- "World Bank Group Network Hacked; Chinese IPs Used: Just What We Need"
(October 10, 2008)
- "Hackers stole data on Pentagon's newest fighter jet"
CNN (April 21, 2009)
- "Computer Spies Breach Fighter-Jet Project"
The Wall Street Journal (April 21, 2009)