Chinese Cyberwarfare Capabilities Under Observation

An annual Department of Defense report on Chinese military activies, released Aug. 24, warns that China’s cyberwarfare capabilities are growing. 

The release of this report coincided with reports that the Chinese military may have acknowledged enabling cyber attacks in a documentary broadcast on state television. An official broadcast on China Central Television included six seconds of footage showing custom built Chinese software.

The report indicates that in 2010, numerous computer systems around the world were the target of intrusions, some of which appear to have originated in China. Cyberwarfare could serve China in data collection through exfiltration, slow response time by targeting network based logistics and communication.

The Chinese Communist Party has consistently denied that it is involved in cyber-attacks, but experts have long suspected that the Chinese military engages in them. While nothing has been proven, the possibility is suspect and under scrutiny.

The DoD’s report also indicates that China has increased diplomatic engagement in forums where cyber issues are discussed. However, they do not yet see eye-to-eye with the U.S. that existing mechanisms such as the Law of Armed Conflict and International Humanitarian Law apply in cyberspace. 

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