March 09, 2012

Report: Chinese tech firms involved in military collaboration

PLA military regions (1996)
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Summary

China boosting information warfare capabilities, with help of academia and commercial IT sector, posing risk to Western government and firms, report alleges.
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) is arming and developing soldiers with advanced information warfare capabilities, deemed a "genuine risk" to the U.S. military operations when a conflict arises, a new report alleges.
According to a report by contractor Northop Grumman for the U.S. government on the cyber threat posed by China released on Thursday, Beijing has come to believe that information warfare and computer network operations are an essential aspect of any military operation and are integrating them with traditional components through a framework called "information confrontation".
The report adds that the Chinese military is constantly evaluating U.S. command and control (C&C) infrastructure and are likely to target these systems with electronic countermeasure weapons, network attack and exploitation tools in times of conflict.
China's military also relied on academia and the commerical IT sector to boost R&D efforts, Grumman said.
At the moment, 50 state universities receive grants to help them carry out information security and warfare research. Huawei, ZTE and Datang have been named in the report as having close ties with the PLA, with Huawei said to be an "advanced source of technology" for the military. It also warned that the joint ventures similar to that of Symantec and Huawei could lead to the risk of intellectual property theft and long-term erosion of competitiveness of Western firms.
The close relationship between China's large multinational telecoms and hardware makers and the PLA also creates the potential for state-sponsored attacks, directed attacks against the supply chain for equipment used by military, government and private industry, the report warned.
China has frequently been accused of state-sponsored hacking on the U.S. In January this year, China reportedly adopted a variant of malware, Sykipot to compromise smart cards used by U.S. government agencies.
Last year, the country had also been accused of a decade-long cyberespionage attack whereby hackers broke into ISP networks of hotels and used traveling employees to gain access to confidential corporate e-mails.
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