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Reports claim the U.S. and Chinese armed forces have begun to wage an escalating, silent war on the internet

Surveillance and subterfuge are timeless traditions.  In ancient Japan, daimyo ninjas carried out dangerous spy missions to the highest bidder.  Their surveillance missions and assasinations created fear and chaos within their enemies. 

More recently in the days of the Cold War, espionage expanded to an unprecedented scale as the CIA and Britain's MI6 waged silent war against the Soviet Union's KGB agents.  Telephoto cameras, spy planes and phone bugs were the most high-tech tools employed for monitoring.

Today a new war of intelligence has begun, this time online.  China, the world's most populus nation, began to exert its digital will.  The U.S. military reported numerous successful attacks on Defense Department computers originating from China.  While the U.S. military has not put it in these exact words, it indicates that the U.S. is on the verge of entering into a digital war with the Chinese government, much akin to the war of surveillance which occurred against Russia during the Cold War era. 

The Defense department reported multiple attacks over the course of the last year.  Among them was a successful June 2007 system penetration which shutdown Homeland Security networks and potentially compromised sensitive data.  The Department of Homeland security traced the attacks back to the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) and blamed the breach on lax security standards at the government contractor Unisys.  Unisys was not alone though -- in Fall 2006 hackers gained access to the Naval War College's computer network and temporarily crippled it.  And also in June of last year, another attack gained access to the unclassified Pentagon email system used by the offices of Defense Secretary Robert Gates.  The email system had to be taken offline and reworked.

Some of these attacks likely were launched by China's burgeoning free lance hacker community.  CNN, in a meeting with high profile Chinese hackers, recently discussed the attacks.  Several of the hackers claimed knowledge of friends in the Chinese underground hacking community who launched successful assaults on the Pentagon.  More interestingly, the hackers reported the Chinese government subsidized them for successful attacks.  While the Chinese government ardently denies such claims it appears, much like Japanese warlords used the ninjas of old, the Chinese government is employing these legions of hackers to create chaos and steal information on U.S. networks -- for a price.

Meanwhile, according to U.S. intelligence, the PLA is building up its own force of elite hackers to wage cyberwarfare.  A Pentagon report, released this month notes that China is expanding its military presence in "the land, air and sea dimensions of the traditional battlefield into the space and cyber-space domains."  Further, it notes,  "The PLA has established information-warfare units to develop viruses to attack enemy computer systems and networks, and tactics and measures to protect friendly computer systems and network."

The Chinese foreign ministry and its spokesman Gang Qin dismissed these intelligence assessments, calling them paranoid and misleading.  Gang stated in recent public comments that the U.S. needs "to drop its Cold War mentality."

However, few familiar with China's military efforts can deny that its cyber-warfare efforts seem particularly active.  General Kevin Chilton, who heads U.S. Strategic Command in Bellevue, Nebraska, stated, "The thing about China that gives you pause is that they've written openly about their emphasis in particular areas -- space and cyberspace ... you can kind of connect the dots."

The government is also very concerned about possible attacks on vulnerable civilian infrastructure such as power and water treatment plants.  In October 2006, according to U.S. Government Accountability Office reports, a Harrisburg, Pa., computer was hacked and software was planted that could affect the plant's water processing.  It has not been officially stated whether the attack originated from inside or outside the country.

In a statement to reporters Chilton indicated that despite China's dismissive attitude, the country is entering into a Cold War-esque digital intelligence campaign against the U.S.  He says its efforts focus on breaching U.S. military networks and mining data which can be used to steal weapons designs, monitor command decisions, and monitor the U.S. armed forces' state of combat readiness.  He states, "Twenty years ago you'd have hired somebody to go in the middle of the night with a flashlight in their teeth to open the drawer and do a bunch of photography of files.  [Today] you can do it from your home country, wherever it might be."

General Chilton also fears that future attacks may focus on crippling entire military systems, leaving entire armed forces branches without communications.  He points to such an attack against Estonia's government in the Spring of 2007, effectively shutting down the majority of Estonia's government networks.  General Chilton stated,  "You don't shut the system down completely, but you slow it down.  I would consider that an attack."

The U.S. is not alone in its belief that China is flexing its cyber-spy muscle.  The United Kingdom has accused the Chinese Army of directly trying to infiltrate British networks and steal information, including personal financial information.  It has distributed letters of warning to various financial institutions.

It will likely be virtually impossible for civilians to determine when exactly the cyberwar between China and the U.S. begins.  It appears, however, the first shots have already been fired and with reports of attacks and buildup mounting, it is clear that we are heading towards a silent cyberwar with China, if we are not engaged in one already.

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Somewhat appropriate quote
By Cullinaire on 3/12/2008 9:42:04 PM , Rating: 3
"No system is safe"

Bonus nerd points to the individual that knows where it came from. (I know it's somewhat generic; if there are multiple sources, then choose the most relevant one)

RE: Somewhat appropriate quote
By Alpha4 on 3/12/2008 10:18:26 PM , Rating: 2
I choose to reference Cochy's thread from a previous article.
Why? Because after googling Famous Quote "No System is safe", I was coincidentally fed this link:

Weird, eh? I was led right back to DT without referring to it in any way.

RE: Somewhat appropriate quote
By Alpha4 on 3/12/2008 10:18:50 PM , Rating: 2
By the way, whats your answer?

RE: Somewhat appropriate quote
By archdale on 3/13/2008 1:46:20 AM , Rating: 2
C&C: Generals. Too Easy.

RE: Somewhat appropriate quote
By Cullinaire on 3/13/2008 11:21:30 AM , Rating: 2
You got it.

"There's always a way in"

and of course

"We'll suck the internet dry!"

I've no doubt
By FITCamaro on 3/12/2008 7:22:37 PM , Rating: 2
That the next world war will start on the internet, and escalate from there. China will be on one side. Who knows who all will be on the other side. Or even on Chinas side.

RE: I've no doubt
By BruceLeet on 3/12/2008 9:24:17 PM , Rating: 5
Russia will be on Chinas side and China will recruit HEDs (Human Explosive Devices) from the Al Qaeda group. North Korea will instigate by attacking US/UN Forces.

Germany: Wow wtf is wrong with the world they are really messed up
America: Oh the irony coming from you, help us out..
Germany: Wheres the sourkraut?
Canada: We have poutine..
US: Germany, what do you got?
Germany: Panzer tanks
Canada: *spoken under breath* pff more like panzy tanks eh
Germany: ACHH!! Well what do you got Canada, hockey stick blades attached as bayonets?
Canada: Stfu deutchebag..


RE: I've no doubt
By Lifted on 3/13/2008 7:40:02 AM , Rating: 2
Nice, but the original one is better.

By Highbuzz on 3/12/2008 7:20:41 PM , Rating: 5
The U.S. is not alone in its belief that China is flexing its cyber-spy muscle. The United Kingdom has accused the Chinese Army of directly trying to infiltrate British networks and steal information, including personal financial information . It has distributed letters of warning to various financial institutions.

Once I read that, I remembered the Chinese hacker from C&C Generals! Haha.

By Captain Orgazmo on 3/12/2008 8:47:51 PM , Rating: 5
I read an interesting book a while back by a retired Secretary of the Air Force named Thomas Reed. It detailed an event in the 1980s (I think), where the US purposefully fed the Soviets flawed gas pipeline control software through a double agent, resulting in one of the largest non-nuclear man made explosions in history.

The Russians had been trying to steal the software, and the US was tipped off in this particular case, but there were likely many occurrences of software theft and sabotage that as yet are not public knowledge. So basically the point is that cyber-warfare existed long before the internet connected all the countries in the world, it is just becoming more widespread and maybe easier now.

Just a little usage check.
By Goty on 3/12/2008 10:46:25 PM , Rating: 2
In October 2006, according to U.S. Government Accountability Office reports, a Harrisburg, Pa., computer was hacked and software was planted that could effect the plant's water processing.

Should be "affect", not "effect".

By KristopherKubicki on 3/12/2008 11:25:56 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks, fixed.

By Megadeth on 3/13/2008 9:13:52 AM , Rating: 2
what about the shipment of external hard drives last year that came preloaded with malicious software that sent keystrokes and data back to servers in China?

Better yet, what about the cheap $5 keyboards we picked up at the office I work at. The CD that came with them was supposed install the software needed to use the extra buttons on the keyboard. What we ended up with instead was a virus warning from our Antivirus system.... Upon researching the virus we found that it originated in China and also sends data and keystrokes to servers in China.

By AlphaVirus on 3/13/2008 4:13:03 PM , Rating: 2
Upon researching the virus we found that it originated in China and also sends data and keystrokes to servers in China.

That is pretty scary. I only purchase 1 keyboard every other year and have never received such a virus warning but I will be on the look if I know any other person with a new keyboard.

They should settle this...
By DASQ on 3/12/2008 6:38:27 PM , Rating: 1
With matches of StarCraft.

If only online hacking were like StarCraft. Reaver micro!

RE: They should settle this...
By lompocus on 3/12/2008 7:48:16 PM , Rating: 2

But that would be the only thing chinese gold farmers would win at! There's os many at them that we don't need precision missile strikes, we can throw an old ww2 artillery shell in the most rural of rural areas and still get thousands of them!

I feel sorry for the chinese people in the even their government decides to start a futile war with t

By DigitalFreak on 3/12/2008 7:12:21 PM , Rating: 1
"Cyber tensions"? LOL

RE: What?
By Duwelon on 3/12/2008 9:17:46 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder which country would reach the climax of their abilities first.

By Are Back on 3/12/2008 7:42:29 PM , Rating: 1
While the Chinese government ardently denies such claims it appears, much like Japanese warlords used the ninjas of old, the Chinese government is employing these legions of hackers to create chaos and steal information on U.S. networks -- for a price.

The only people who have confirmed this are the unnamed hackers in the CNN article. The Chinese government denies this (of course), so I am weary of the speculative assumptions here.

It may be true, but... come on. Just the facts.

RE: Credibility
By rsmech on 3/12/2008 7:58:20 PM , Rating: 2
US Gov't: Yes China we know you have been doing this. This is how we found out, so yes we know it's true. By the way please don't close those back doors, trojans, or arrest our informants.

China: don't worry, you caught us red handed, we won't stop you from catching us at it again.


By dare2savefreedom on 3/13/2008 1:00:19 AM , Rating: 3
you spelt it wrong its GLA

By i3arracuda on 3/12/2008 7:50:47 PM , Rating: 2 in ur pentagons, stealing ur documents!

I wonder if the Chinese Government pays these hackers more per hour than their gold-farming compatriots?

Here is what I'd like to know:
By Goty on 3/12/2008 10:43:53 PM , Rating: 2
I'd like to know just how successful we've been in either stopping whoever is responsible for these attacks (be it the PLA or not) or retaliating against them. Unfortunately, if it's China, we'll never hear a word of it due to their government's highly secretive nature.

By cunning plan on 3/13/2008 5:11:30 AM , Rating: 2
Mom. Bathroom... Bathroom.. Bathroom.

By changjuju on 3/13/2008 3:17:20 PM , Rating: 2
We need to teach our kids to be safe on the internet as well. I have a program in my class called isafe which talks about cyber attacks and what my kids can due to keep their systems safe. It is a great program and at least a small step to mitigate from issues. I hope that education is a vital part to the upcoming Homeland Security Initiative on Cyber Attacks so our kids can also learn to survive in today's online worlds. By the way - you can look at these materials I use at It is free to download.

Skynet is born...
By Sazar on 3/12/2008 7:04:32 PM , Rating: 1
I wonder when Judgement Day is?


What is wrong with Jason Mick?
By AgainAndAgain2 on 3/12/08, Rating: -1
RE: What is wrong with Jason Mick?
By Runiteshark on 3/12/08, Rating: 0
RE: What is wrong with Jason Mick?
By Haltech on 3/12/2008 8:03:56 PM , Rating: 2
its called journalism. Turning OK to read stories into interesting thought provoking articles that dont twist the story.

By Bioniccrackmonk on 3/12/2008 10:07:39 PM , Rating: 1
I have no idea why you were voted down, because you didn't just randomly attack someone, you actually had an intelligent and intelligible post.

Its really quite simple, you agree with againandagain2, just as a ton of people disagree with him. That is how it works. I disagree with him, but you can't vote someone lower then -1 so I replied to your comment instead.

If there really was an "active cyber war", why would China even let the people who claimed they are doing whats claimed talk?

Kind of hard to snuff out the people in the highest levels of government without that shit hitting the news, or they could just deny it and let it be. Hmmm, what would be the best answer here?

RE: What is wrong with Jason Mick?
By omnicronx on 3/12/2008 7:53:27 PM , Rating: 2
News is never fact, it is merely someones interpretation of the facts.


war (wôr)
a. A state of open, armed, often prolonged conflict carried on between nations, states, or parties.
b. The period of such conflict.
c. The techniques and procedures of war; military science.
a. A condition of active antagonism or contention: a war of words; a price war.
b. A concerted effort or campaign to combat or put an end to something considered injurious: the war against acid rain.
intr.v. warred, war·ring, wars
1. To wage or carry on warfare.
2. To be in a state of hostility or rivalry; contend.

Looks like this situation fits the bill....need the definition of silent?

RE: What is wrong with Jason Mick?
By Runiteshark on 3/12/2008 7:59:12 PM , Rating: 2
I can prove we had WW2,

Japan attacked Pearl harbor, we took out their ships

I can prove we are having the Iraqi war:

My brother in law was there and killed people
We invaded them, and they resisted

But how can we prove this one?

RE: What is wrong with Jason Mick?
By rsmech on 3/12/2008 8:09:12 PM , Rating: 2
But how can we prove this one?

Sounds like both sides are doing a good job at it then if you don't know or refuse to believe. That is usually how espionage works.

RE: What is wrong with Jason Mick?
By rsmech on 3/12/2008 8:03:11 PM , Rating: 1
He's suggesting that there is a 'war' going on

China is conducting unprovoked attacks

I think I just seen something fly over your head.

RE: What is wrong with Jason Mick?
By Runiteshark on 3/12/2008 8:13:24 PM , Rating: 2
I see.

In AD 2008 war was beginning.

RE: What is wrong with Jason Mick?
By jtemplin on 3/12/2008 11:23:02 PM , Rating: 2
You have no chance to survive...

make your time.



By yxalitis on 3/12/08, Rating: -1
RE: Proof?
By rsmech on 3/12/2008 7:53:45 PM , Rating: 5
Read the rest of the article. It tells how others agree with the threat, & don't expect hard evidence. You don't tell the one you are spying on how you do it. Sometimes you just have to believe, but common sense also dictates the same conclusion in this case. As you can also assume we have been doing the same to them.

RE: Proof?
By mendocinosummit on 3/12/2008 8:55:11 PM , Rating: 2
...and China would never let the world know that there was a successful cyber attack against them. Oh, and we wouldn't say shit either.

RE: Proof?
By lompocus on 3/12/08, Rating: 0
RE: Proof?
By eye smite on 3/12/2008 8:32:22 PM , Rating: 5
If you want proof start reading history books and look at the last 2k yrs of chinese history. Look at how they've warred, look at the warlords, look at the different emperors and dynasty's. Hell just read the book from SunTzu titled "The Art of War" and you'll understand all you need to know about their warring mentality and lust for power. It's repeated time and again throughout history, you just have to read to find that out. China is no one's friend, if you believe they want to be friends, you deserve to get used.

RE: Proof?
By lompocus on 3/12/08, Rating: 0
RE: Proof?
By eye smite on 3/12/2008 9:09:29 PM , Rating: 3
Dude I think you totally missed the point. Chinese rule in China has always been more militant than anything the US has done and they have several more centuries of that same behaviour to back that up with. I'm not against the chinese, but my point is, if you underestimate them, you've done exactly what they want you to. Duplicity within duplicity runs prevalent in most everything they do. As long as they stay across the pacific and do their own thing, I got no issues with China. If history repeats itself as it's already doing, they will contiue to lust for power and since we've given all our technology to them basically, they now have a way to make those goals come to pass. Keep your sarcasm and your drama for the politics videos on youtube.

RE: Proof?
By lompocus on 3/13/2008 8:17:03 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, I'm not being sarcastic. Just truthful in an not-so-serious way.

Think about it. What does China have to continue its, as you say, militant lust for power? You say they have the means Technology? Better troops? Really?

Besides, their 'militant lust for power' and their 'united culture' has resulted in various changes in government over the same timeframe we (US) got up. It resulted in a communist revolution. It resulted in the worst working conditions for its 2 billion inhabitants.

What, they gonna take over Japan now? Taiwan? They can't even take over Taiwan! They can't feed their own people without abandoning their prime supplier of food (US and allies)! They're still considered a third world country.

RE: Proof?
By Omega215D on 3/12/2008 9:03:08 PM , Rating: 2
And who doesn't lust for power and go to war? I'd appreciate it if you don't single out China. I say this because I've come from a shaolin upbringing.

RE: Proof?
By eye smite on 3/12/2008 9:18:48 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, so by citing chinese history and their prevalent behaviour for 2k yrs or more I'm singling them out? You suffer from perception issues. Now perhaps if I had said " those little slant eyed commie buggers can't be trusted with anything" you might have been able to draw that conclusion. I simply stated what CHINESE history shows and I even cited a book that happens to be the military bible they've used since 1300BC when it was written. Since you seem to think I'm singling them out though, what in your eyes has the country of China done to earn my respect or trust? What has it done to earn my contempt? By and large I'm neutral towards china as they don't play a pivotal role in my day to day life.

RE: Proof?
By eye smite on 3/12/2008 9:20:37 PM , Rating: 2
Thank you for proving my point about Chinese peoples militant behaviour, good form.

RE: Proof?
By Omega215D on 3/12/2008 11:23:51 PM , Rating: 2
Clearly you don't know what Shaolin truly is if that is what you believe to be proving your point.

RE: Proof?
By eye smite on 3/13/2008 7:22:17 AM , Rating: 4
and obviously you don't see your own comment saying I'm singling out chinese people as combative. Taking a defensive posture and becoming EMO due to a perception issue clearly proved my point, so again, thanks.

RE: Proof?
By seraphim1982 on 3/13/08, Rating: 0
RE: Proof?
By ksuWildcat on 3/13/2008 12:55:43 PM , Rating: 1
I have to agree with you, except that the USA has, at least in the last century, been involved in conflicts or wars about every decade or so. I suppose that one could argue that, without actual engagement, how would a country know whether or not their military is truly prepared for war. I think the reality is that the U.S. fears losing its global influence (just as you pointed out), which is why we get involved in other countries affairs.

The Chinese really aren't so different from the rest of the world. They are becoming a capitalistic country very quickly, and I think that we should view China as a potential ally rather than a threat.

RE: Proof?
By eye smite on 3/13/2008 9:18:31 PM , Rating: 4
You're the one turning this into a racist, singling out or whatever issue. I pointed to Chinese history as an example of why they behave the way they do. I did not make comparisons to any other country or culture, and if memory serves without reading up the article was about Chinese activities. However I'll point out some additional items. China removed a child emperor and established a democratic gov't in 1908. Ten yrs later that gov't was overthrown by a provincial warlord and the warlords of china began the campaign of bloodshed again from 1918 til the beginning of WW2 when Japan invaded Manchuria re-installing Henry P'u Yi the ousted emperor. Post WW2 the nation went communism which gave the warlords that still exist to this day the chance to rule the whole nation without warring amongst themselves. I'm sure there are numerous examples of events where people were put down in the name of preserving said communism, the one that comes to mind most recently is Tiananmen Square where nearly 100 people were killed like dogs in the street because OMG they protested against the gov't. So, my question to you is, how many leaders have we revolted against in the US in the last 100 yrs? How many people were slaughtered in the streets because they protested here in America in the last 100 yrs? And finally, how many times has the form of gov't changed in the good ole US in the last 100 yrs? Now, after you answer those questions, you can dry your tears, take your whining somewhere else and swallow the bitter pill proving that China is a race or predominantly militant people.

Why ?
By chick0n on 3/12/08, Rating: -1
RE: Why ?
By eye smite on 3/12/2008 9:30:23 PM , Rating: 2
Because you have your perceptions all skewed. America spies on other countries which in most cases does not involve attacking. They do that in the interests of national securiteeeeeeeee, get it?

What china is doing is sabotage not spying, there's a bit of a difference I think, but I could be wrong......

RE: Why ?
By mindless1 on 3/12/2008 10:00:22 PM , Rating: 1
It is ok because the US is the center of the galaxy and the champion of truth and justice. Now that we've entered into a campaign pledging a War On Terror™, any action taken is excusable. If you disagree obviously you are a terrorist because we are too virtuous to have done anything whatsoever to have made any enemies, it's us good guys versus pure evil. Pick a side but either way you will respect mi authoritah!

RE: Why ?
By Alpha4 on 3/12/2008 10:07:06 PM , Rating: 2
War On Terror™
Laughed... My... Ass... Off!

RE: Why ?
By Shining Arcanine on 3/12/2008 10:22:32 PM , Rating: 2
That is a loaded question. With that as a premise, there is no possible way to argue for anything but that, as it is being assumed, regardless of whether or not it is true.

RE: Why ?
By afkrotch on 3/12/2008 11:28:23 PM , Rating: 5
Spying is standard practice for any country. The difference is, that the US isn't breaking into their computer systems, planting viruses, crippling systems, etc. Shoot, US isn't even trying to break into their systems. If they did such, then they would know. The point is to get the information without being detected.

Much easier to do with a U2 flying miles above the Earth and hundreds of miles out of Chinese airspace. Monitor transmission and pick them up when they go out. Think of it as the US picks your pocket while you're walking around town. Nice and discrete. China breaks into your house, steals everything, and then rapes your daughter on the way out.

RE: Why ?
By See Spot Run on 3/13/2008 12:21:15 AM , Rating: 3
Spying is standard practice for any country. The difference is, that the US isn't breaking into their computer systems, planting viruses, crippling systems, etc. Shoot, US isn't even trying to break into their systems.

Maybe the US just hasn't been caught yet?

RE: Why ?
By HrilL on 3/13/2008 1:58:17 AM , Rating: 2
I think that is the point he is making. We own them in every way other then treating our people like cattle and making toys that are made of drugs.

RE: Why ?
By afkrotch on 3/14/2008 2:01:36 AM , Rating: 2
So you're saying that China, with it's ability to break into multiple countries' highly protected network systems, that the US was somehow...not caught.

Let me reword that sentence for you.

"US is too smart and the other countries are just incompetent."

Sorry, but if the US was hacking other countries, I'm sure they'd have been caught. US might have the greatest tech, but that's cause they spend so much money for R&D. Plenty of other countries could be up there technologically for military hardware. They simply don't budget that much towards national defense spending.

RE: Why ?
By lompocus on 3/13/2008 7:55:09 AM , Rating: 1
Would you prefer China hacking your household systems on a regular basis and know you're being watched, or us doing it in an unnoticable way so you can keep on looking on all that pr0n you got in your HDD!

Hey, what if we just send the chinese a pr0n virus? They're such prudes over there in asia we'd win any war instantly once their leaders are exposed to naked chicks for the first time in their lives!

RE: Why ?
By HrilL on 3/13/2008 12:53:23 PM , Rating: 2
Rofl. You do realize that they probably have prostitutes all the time. It is the people that they control like cattle that are affected by the governments prudeness laws.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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