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US takes aim at China and Russia over cyber-attacks

November 7, 2011

Latest report of US Office of national Counterintelligence:

November 3, 2011 Financial Times
By Geoff Dyer in Washington and Joseph Menn in San Francisco

Massive cyber-espionage by China and Russia poses “significant and growing
threats” to American economic power and national security, US officials
have charged in their most direct warning on the issue.
In an unusually blunt public document, US intelligence officials said the
two geopolitical rivals had launched an onslaught of internet-enabled
spying on US companies to win bargaining power and trade secrets.

The claims were made in a report to Congress prepared by leading US
intelligence agencies.
While US officials and private researchers have frequently talked in
private about the threat of cyber-espionage, the report is unusual in that
it directly names the Chinese and Russian governments as being behind many
efforts to steal technology.
“China and Russia view themselves as strategic competitors of the United
States and are the most aggressive collectors of US economic information
and technology,” the report said.

While large companies around the world realise that cybersecurity
weaknesses are a growing threat, they are not increasing spending to meet
the challenge, according to recent surveys
“Both will almost certainly continue to deploy significant resources and a
wide array of tactics to acquire this information from US sources,
motivated by the desire to achieve economic, strategic, and military
parity with the United States,” it said.
The report was published by the Office of the National Counterintelligence
Executive, which reports to the director of national intelligence, and was
based on the views of 13 different agencies, including the CIA, FBI and
the intelligence services of the different branches of the military.
The report noted that “Chinese actors are the world’s most active and
persistent perpetrators of economic espionage”. It also added that
“Russia’s intelligence services are conducting a range of activities to
collect economic information and technology from US targets.”
“It is a fantastic step forward and long overdue,” said Dmitri Alperovich,
a prominent security researcher who documented multiple Chinese campaigns
against western oil and gas concerns, defence contractors and other
“We need to raise this so we can begin to have diplomatic carrots and
sticks to address these issues. “We have significant economic levers
within international trade organisations, and we can take unilateral or
multilateral actions. Ultimately, it is an economic issue.”
However, despite the strong and direct allegation, the report did not
identify specific culprits within the two countries. The governments often
use independent hackers to mask responsibility for the intrusions, it
said. It also added that “some US allies” use their broad access in the US
to acquire information about technologies, although it did not name any
China immediately rejected the charges made in the report. “We believe the
allegations made by the US side are unwarranted and irresponsible,” said a
spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington. “We are against such
demonising efforts, just as we are opposed to unlawful cyberspace
The Russian embassy in Washington refused to comment on the report.
Mike Rogers, chairman of the House committee on intelligence, said: “This
report confirms what I have heard time and time again: the Chinese remain
the most aggressive and persistent perpetrators of economic and industrial
espionage against the United States. Their continued theft of sensitive
economic information is a threat to our national security, hurts American
businesses and workers, and causes incalculable harm to global economy.”
The report said that such activities were likely to increase in the coming
years because of the proliferation of portable devices that connect to the
internet and the increase pooling and storage of information by companies.

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