James Clapper: China's Cyber Warfare Capabilities 'Formidable Concern' to US

James Clapper

China’s growing capabilities in cyber warfare and intelligence gathering are a “formidable concern” to the United States, the intelligence director told a Senate panel yesterday.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said the Chinese have invested significantly in cyber warfare capabilities and “this is just another way in which they glean information about us and collect on us for technology purposes, so it’s a very formidable concern.”

The intelligence chief, addressing questions at an annual hearing on worldwide security threats, did not further elaborate on specific Chinese cyber activities, Reuters reported.

However, in his written testimony, Reuters said, Clapper said  2010 saw a “dramatic increase in malicious cyber activity targeting U.S. computers and networks,” but he did not specifically mention China as one of the culprits.

He also cited an April 8, 2010, incident in which a Chinese government-owned telecommunications company advertised erroneous network routes that diverted “massive volumes” of U.S. and other foreign web traffic to go through Chinese servers for 17 minutes.

Sites impacted included those for the Senate, the Army, the Navy, the Marine corps, the Air Force and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, as well as a host of Fortune 500 firms, Clapper said.

China Telecom has denied it hijacked U.S. Internet traffic, Reuters reported. Overall, China has refuted any connection to recent hackings and says it, too, is often a victim of such attacks, a standard denial, Reuters noted.

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