Cyber Warfare Becoming More Frequent And Widespread

The Washington Post reports that the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board has issued an internal report that Chinese hackers gained access to more than two dozen major weapons systems that critical to U.S. missile defenses and combat aircraft and ships.

“The Defense Science Board, a senior advisory group made up of government and civilian experts, did not accuse the Chinese of stealing the designs. But senior military and industry officials with knowledge of the breaches said the vast majority were part of a widening Chinese campaign of espionage against U.S. defense contractors and government agencies,” says the Post.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon warned of the danger of cyber attacks in its annual report to Congress.

““In 2012, numerous computer systems around the world, including those owned by  the U.S. government, continued to be targeted for intrusions, some of which appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military. China is using its computer network exploitation capability to  support intelligence collection against the U.S. diplomatic, economic, and defense industrial base sectors that support U.S. national defense programs,” concluded the report.

Cyber Attacks Becoming More Frequent, Widespread
The disclosure of the Pentagon breach comes after it was reported that Chinese hackers were able to steal top-secret blueprints of Australian spy agency Asio’s new headquarters. Australian foreign minister, Bob Carr, has insisted the violation will not harm Sino-Canadian relations. In addition, The New York Times reported that government officials attributed a recent string of cyber attacks on Iran.

The threat posed by hackers – either rogue or government-backed – has not been missed by the US and other governments.

Cyber Attacks Not Limited To Military Targets
But it is not only military installations and systems which are under attack from foreign hackers. According to a recent congressional report, US utilities are under constant attack, including one company which was subject to 10,000 attempts a month.

The impact of the attacks can and have the potential to cause real crises, which happened when the Syrian Electronic Army hacked the Associated Press’ Twitter feed and sent a tweet that the White House had
been attacked and President Obama wounded. The result: the Dow plummeted more than 140 points. Over $136 billion was lost within three minutes of the false tweet. The market rebounded once the hoax was exposed.

Terrorist Groups Increasing Hacking Activity
Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute, says focusing solely on cyber attacks by Iran and China neglects threats from non-state actors, including terrorist groups.

“So far, virtually no one has looked at the Arab and Islamic world in this
context—despite the fact that for the past decade a considerable number of cyber attacks and threats against the U.S. and other Western countries have emanated from there,” he writes.

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