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[ISN] US concerned about China's cyberwarfare threat

From: William Knowles (wkC4I.ORG)
Date: Mon Apr 02 2001 - 16:19:30 CDT


Friday, March 30, 2001

WASHINGTON: China is developing cyberwarfare capabilities that could
put at risk the computer networks that the US military increasingly
relies on for its operations, the general responsible for US military
space and cyberwarfare programmes warned Thursday.

Air Force General Ralph Eberhart, who heads the US Space Command, said
although Beijing's intentions are unclear, the US military is
concerned about its focus on developing the means to carry out
computer network attacks.

"We see this in terms of capabilities we know they have, we see this
written in their doctrine, we see this espoused by their leadership,''
he told defence reporters here.

"We don't know if they in fact intend to use it for a threat,'' he
said, adding that "it concerns us when we see a capability out

Eberhart's command, meanwhile, is developing offensive cyberwarfare
capabilities of its own while it devises ways to defend US computer
networks against attack.

"We're looking at all applications of computer network attack,'' he

The US military, which already uses thousands of computer systems, has
moved aggressively in recent years to use computer networks to connect
troops in the field to distant headquarters and to an array of
satellite and airborne reconnaissance data and imagery.

But the reliance both on space and on computers to open up new vistas
for battlefield commanders also has created vulnerabilities that US
strategists believe will be exploited by potential adversaries.

Such a scenario was examined in a wargame earlier this year that
explored whether a notional space force in 2017 could deter a
conventional invasion by taking out an adversary's "eyes and ears'' in

Blowing up satellites in space was "a last ditch option,'' said
Eberhart, who said negotiations, interfering with satellite links, or
even bombing ground stations were preferable alternatives because of
the collateral damage that could be done to US space assets by debris
from explosions.

"Another option I'd be very interested in is computer network attack,
an electronic attack on a ground station,'' he said.

Besides China, the US military also is concerned about countries like
Iraq and Iran acquiring means to conduct cyberwarfare, he said.

"Although we worry about state capabilities out there from other
nations, this is an area where terrorists can certainly play, this is
an area where (drug) cartels could play,'' he said.

"This is an area where in fact the real problem is to discern whether
it is state sponsored, whether it's terrorists, whether it's the
curious teenager sitting in (his or her) room,'' he said.

"Communications without intelligence is noise; Intelligence
without communications is irrelevant." Gen Alfred. M. Gray, USMC
C4I.org - Computer Security, & Intelligence - http://www.c4i.org

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