The UK thinks China is ready to wage cyberwar on British networks

British officials accused China of organized cyber-warfare against computer systems of banks and other large corporations located in the United Kingdom.  The head of Britain's domestic spy agency MI5, Jonathan Evans, distributed a letter to more than 300 executives and security officers of large banks and major financial institutions.

Evans reportedly warned them "of the electronic espionage attack" by "Chinese state organizations."  Specifically, companies were warned of risks of the Chinese Army, which is known to use the Internet to steal personal information and other data.

"The letter acknowledges the strong economic and commercial reasons to do business with China, but the need to ensure management of the risks involved," warns a letter published on the Centre for the Protection of the National Infrastructure, where the report was originally published.

This is the first time London officials directly blamed China for conducting cyberwar.  Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced last week he has a scheduled visit to China in January, and talks of possible cyber-warfare may have to be added to the discussions.

Attacks initially started out as regular network probes, but quickly progressed towards "well-funded and well-organised operations for political, military, economic and technical espionage."

Officials in North America and several European nations have strongly criticized China for allegedly operating organized hacking rings aimed at infiltrating foreign networks.  Even though a direct military battle is unlikely, nations appear to be willing to feud with China through cyberspace.

China earlier in the year accused other nations, including the United States, of waging cyber-attacks against its computer networks.

British allegations come only a day after U.S. company McAfee published a scathing 22-page report that hacking arms races will become the next Cold War. While McAfee, a software security company, certainly has interests in future wars unfolding on its home turf, several global conflicts have already unfolded.

In May 2007, a three week campaign of denial of service and intrusion was detected against Estonian government computers.  The Estonian government publicly blamed Russia for the attacks.  Just three months later, another large-scale intrusion was detected in the Pentagon. U.S. officials put the blame on Chinese government hackers.

Intergovernmental hacking, it would seem, is on the rise; or at least are the means to detect such attacks.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
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