Is Obama doing enough to stop China's cyber attacks?

Newsmax 2013/02/20 19:00:00
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Obama to Strike Back at China for Cyberattacks

As public evidence mounts that the Chinese military is responsible for stealing massive amounts of U.S. government data and corporate trade secrets, the Obama administration is eyeing fines and other trade actions it may take against Beijing or any other country guilty of cyberespionage.

According to officials familiar with the plans, the White House will lay out a new report Wednesday that suggests initial, more-aggressive steps the U.S. would take in response to what top authorities say has been an unrelenting campaign of cyberstealing linked to the Chinese government. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the threatened action.

The White House plans come after a Virginia-based cybersecurity firm released a torrent of details Monday that tied a secret Chinese military unit in Shanghai to years of cyberattacks against U.S. companies. After analyzing breaches that compromised more than 140 companies, Mandiant has concluded that they can be linked to the People's Liberation Army's Unit 61398.

Military experts believe the unit is part of the People's Liberation Army's cyber-command, which is under the direct authority of the General Staff Department, China's version of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As such, its activities would be likely to be authorized at the highest levels of China's military.

The release of Mandiant's report, complete with details on three of the alleged hackers and photographs of one of the military unit's buildings in Shanghai, makes public what U.S. authorities have said less publicly for years. But it also increases the pressure on the U.S. to take more forceful action against the Chinese for what experts say has been years of systematic espionage.

"If the Chinese government flew planes into our airspace, our planes would escort them away. If it happened two, three or four times, the president would be on the phone and there would be threats of retaliation," said former FBI executive assistant director Shawn Henry. "This is happening thousands of times a day. There needs to be some definition of where the red line is and what the repercussions would be."

Henry, now president of the security firm CrowdStrike, said that rather than tell companies to increase their cybersecurity the government needs to focus more on how to deter the hackers and the nations that are backing them.

James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that in the past year the White House has been taking a serious look at responding to China, adding that "this will be the year they will put more pressure on, even while realizing it will be hard for the Chinese to change. There's not an on-off switch."

The Chinese government, meanwhile, has denied involvement in the cyber-attacks tracked by Mandiant. Instead, the Foreign Ministry said that China, too, is a victim of hacking, some of it traced to the U.S. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei cited a report by an agency under the Ministry of Information Technology and Industry that said in 2012 alone that foreign hackers used viruses and other malicious software to seize control of 1,400 computers in China and 38,000 websites.

"Among the above attacks, those from the U.S. numbered the most," Hong said at a daily media briefing, lodging the most specific allegations the Chinese government has made about foreign hacking.

Cybersecurity experts say U.S. authorities do not conduct similar attacks or steal data from Chinese companies, but acknowledge that intelligence agencies routinely spy on other countries.

China is clearly a target of interest, said Lewis, noting that the U.S. would be interested in Beijing's military policies, such as any plans for action against Taiwan or Japan.

In its report, Mandiant said it traced the hacking back to a neighborhood in the outskirts of Shanghai that includes a white 12-story office building run by the PLA's Unit 61398.

Mandiant said there are only two viable conclusions about the involvement of the Chinese military in the cyberattacks: Either Unit 61398 is responsible for the persistent attacks or they are being done by a secret organization of Chinese speakers with direct access to the Shanghai telecommunications infrastructure who are engaged in a multi-year espionage campaign being run right outside the military unit's gates.

"In a state that rigorously monitors Internet use, it is highly unlikely that the Chinese government is unaware of an attack group that operates from the Pudong New Area of Shanghai," the Mandiant report said, concluding that the only way the group could function is with the "full knowledge and cooperation" of the Beijing government.

The unit "has systematically stolen hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organizations," Mandiant wrote. A terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes. The most popular version of the new iPhone 5, for example, has 16 gigabytes of space, while the more expensive iPads have as much as 64 gigabytes of space. The U.S. Library of Congress' 2006-2010 Twitter archive of about 170 billion tweets totals 133.2 terabytes.

"At some point we do have to call the Chinese out on this," said Michael Chertoff, Homeland Security secretary under President George W. Bush and now chairman of the Chertoff Group, a global security firm. "Simply rolling over and averting our eyes, I don't think is a long-term strategy."

Richard Bejtlich, the chief security officer at Mandiant, said the company decided to make its report public in part to help send a message to both the Chinese and U.S. governments.

"At the government level, I see this as a tool that they can use to have discussions with the Chinese, with allies, with others who are concerned about this problem and have an open dialogue without having to worry about sensitivities around disclosing classified information," Bejtlich said. "This problem is overclassified."

He said the release of an unclassified report that provides detailed evidence will allow authorities to have an open discussion about what to do.

Mandiant's report is filled with high-tech details and juicy nuggets that led to its conclusion, including the code names of some of the hackers, like Ugly Gorilla, Dota and SuperHard, and that Dota appears to be a fan of Harry Potter because references to the book and movie character appear as answers to his computer security questions.

Investigation: China Secretly Stockpiling Gold

The White House would not comment on the report expected Wednesday.

"We have repeatedly raised our concerns at the highest levels about cybertheft with senior Chinese officials, including in the military, and we will continue to do so," said Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the National Security Council. "The United States and China are among the world's largest cyber actors, and it is vital that we continue a sustained, meaningful dialogue and work together to develop an understanding of acceptable behavior in cyberspace."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the report reinforces the need for international agreements that prohibit cybercrimes and have a workable enforcement mechanism.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
commentary conservative opinions christopher ruddy ben stein george kathleen parker

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  • i don't care 2013/10/13 09:20:01
    i don't care
  • cfnijunk 2013/04/13 19:02:32
    What does Obama know about "China's cyber attacks", or even foreign affairs for that matter?
  • rimshot 2013/03/13 23:40:18
    This is a made up threat - President Obama and his friends will use this to push for more control over your internet access. By pretending to pass new "protections" it will allow government the right to monitor more of our personal searchs and actions over the net.
    More freedoms lost!
  • Theresa 2013/03/09 09:17:16
    He is facilitating them!
  • MONGOOSE 2013/03/09 08:06:40
    Obama and his administration plus most of the government better watch what comes out of their mouth lately Obama has been acting like he's President of this planet and that's because certain people that are backing him to give Obama self influence that could get the American people in serious deep acts that could involve are life which at time they do not think about that as long as they get their way then not considerate whats most important in the long run,
  • HappyGuy 2013/03/05 04:30:43
    We are sinking into a depression as we read and talk about this poll --The economy is failing !!
  • John Ml... HappyGuy 2013/03/06 19:21:44
    John Mlynczak
    You freaking moron...The economy is screaming FORWARD. If you only get your 'brain' washing by watching faux 'news' then maybe you don't no that actually the stockmarket has set a new record.
    Quit talking like little bush is still trashing the ecomomy. Now President Obama is in charge and so everything is okay.....It's safe to come out from that rock you have been living under fool.
  • Theresa John Ml... 2013/03/09 09:22:19
    Your an idiot if you think the activity on the stock market has anything to do with our real economy!
  • HappyGuy Theresa 2013/03/14 06:01:18
    I agree --It will crash soon along with a deep depression
  • Theresa HappyGuy 2013/03/14 07:06:31
    Very soon I suggest you try to find a place off the grid! I also suggest you invest in some sustainable agriculture there too.
  • HappyGuy Theresa 2013/03/19 19:48:46
    I suggest you take some poison and end your pitiful existance here on this earth --you make no sense !!! Maybe poppies ?
  • Theresa HappyGuy 2013/03/19 19:58:02
    I hope you like your internment camp Perhaps they will feed you once a day!
  • HappyGuy Theresa 2013/03/19 19:59:47
    hahahhahhaahahahaahaahaha there is no fool worse than an old FOOL
  • Theresa HappyGuy 2013/03/19 20:01:34
    Well when the gang banger come to your door I suppose you will open it wide to them?
  • HappyGuy Theresa 2013/03/21 01:53:47
    you already have
  • John Ml... Theresa 2013/03/15 18:55:30
    John Mlynczak
    Really??? Who's the idiot then fool if the actual FACT is that the stockmarket does measure how good or bad our economy is. Guess what dumbnuts..When bush ruined the economy THE STOCKMARKET CRASHED.
    Get a brain. Just because rush limbaugh says it doesn't make it so doo-doo head.
  • Theresa John Ml... 2013/03/15 18:58:32
    You get a brain! Stock markets is nothing but pure speculation between propped up buyers and sellers. It has nothing to do with the real world where box stores are going out of business weekly. Where certain businesses can not afford to restock their shelves! Where gov't dependency has grown to 50 million on food stamps alone!
  • rimshot HappyGuy 2013/03/13 23:46:33
    Dont worry - home land security is being beefed up - billions of rounds of ammo and thousands of AR15 have been ordered for "Interior Use" - over $103Billion nationwide has been spent rebuilding and expanding private airstrips - money for these upgrades come from "Homeland Security Funds" Do a google search - find out for your self - when this Country goes into the big depression - "Home Land Security" will make sure we are all safe "In our Homes"
  • HappyGuy rimshot 2013/03/14 06:02:20
    The are building concentration camps for Americans too --with gas chambers
  • Risk 2013/03/01 13:10:54
    Give the guy a break, he's too busy running around the country spreading the word of Obama to take time out for crap like that.
  • Moodybloo70 2013/02/27 13:59:25
    he did not strike back a year or 2 ago when the Chinese actually hacked the Defense Dept computer system. Lord knows how many secrets were stolen. Obama and the media just ignored it therefore the presidence has been set....No Action (except to put US hackers in jail instead of hiring them)
  • andy15554 2013/02/25 19:38:04
    Obama is a useless sissy and lacks the stones to anything that a real man should be able to do. He is the effeminate little boy president. All he has is blame and lies.
  • John Ml... andy15554 2013/02/25 22:35:05
    John Mlynczak
    Wow..They let you guys use the computer in there? I always figured that they would just have you guys strapped to a gurney or in a straight jacket. How much time per day are you allowed for computer/internet?
  • andy15554 John Ml... 2013/02/25 23:13:17
    Wow you Obama Voters going to cry when your savior gets an accurate description portrayed? Obama is a failure in every way, yet you fools still worship him, you need the straight jacket.
  • wildcat 2013/02/25 18:50:10
    this is a stupid question, I always thought the only stupid question was the one not asked until I read this stupid one.
  • \V/ 2013/02/25 18:27:26
  • iamnothere 2013/02/25 12:59:32
    one can blame this on ovomit.. he likely is technology challenged. without his black berry he would have to actually talk to people
  • Bob 2013/02/25 05:25:21
    He is to concerned about his Liberal agenda to be worried about a few hackers.
  • Myopinionmatters 2013/02/24 21:10:08
    He doesnt do anything
  • Bobbie S 2013/02/24 16:50:54
    Bobbie S
    And he won't. The more of China, the less of the USA, and that's the way, uh huh, uh huh, he likes it, uh huh, uh huh.

    How, just how, is this not obvious to absolutely everyone that lives in what used to be the greatest country in our world?
  • Jeff 2013/02/24 16:33:47
    No, he and the government are too busy spying on us.
  • Bob Jeff 2013/02/25 05:26:31
    Watch it! A drone is flying over your head right now. Big brother is watching!
  • Stimpy Bob 2013/02/25 13:29:24
    They're always watching.

    Big brother eye
  • mac9 2013/02/24 14:29:52
    Obama has no priorities for the country. He s a self serving moron.
  • Bob mac9 2013/02/25 05:27:05
    You nailed it!
  • BARRY0619 2013/02/24 07:50:50
    He's too busy campaigning...
  • Rob 2013/02/23 20:57:59
    Obama bends over, and bends America over, for the china. He is a gutless pussy. I imagine he even authorizes free money for china.
  • sodabox 2013/02/23 20:24:13
    But we can't do crap about it because they are our land lords. We have to stop spending so much on military crap.

    usa military spending
  • Sahara 2013/02/23 14:58:44
    meant to say NO
  • obama needs to go 2013/02/23 12:46:31
    obama needs to go
    He's a coward, enough said? (unless it's a fight against republicans who are trying to stop his unamerican agenda). Anyone else see another apology tour coming up? Maybe he can go around Asia this time and humiliate America a second time?
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