China engaged in long-term information warfare activity, says US government

The USCC's 2009 annual report describes the creation of information warfare militia units of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), in which commercial IT personnel and academics are recruited to draw on broader professional skill sets in a region.

They create attack and defense teams, along with intelligence units designed to document information on Western targets. Such militia have been in operation since 1998, the report suggests, and became a priority for the PLA in 2006.

These groups, in combination with state-approved citizen hacker units, have become adept at precisely targeting and harvesting information from sensitive western computing resources, both inside Congress, and in private contractors' networks.

The report describes an attack on a Western company's computer systems, in which an information gathering team mapped the network and intellectual property resources within the company for months, before handing over the information to a collection team, which quickly and expertly harvested key files.

In testimony before the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security, USCC Vice Chairman Larry M Wortzel admonished the Obama administration for failing to follow up on its initial information warfare review.

"The President made a good start with the 60 day cyber-review earlier this year, but there still is no cybersecurity coordinator at the White House, as recommended by the White House review", he said. "Efforts to coordinate standards and policies across government and in the private sector appear stalled without the support of senior leadership in the National Security Council."

There are also hints that many aspects of information warfare would not be put into play until the beginning of a physical conflict. An informaiton warfare doctrine adopted by the PLA, called Integrated Network Electronic Warfare, describes how electronic and computerised information warfare methods would be deployed as part of a wider campaign.

"Integrated Network Electronic Warfare advocates the employment of traditional electronic warfare operations, such as the jamming of radars and communications systems - in coordination with computer network attack operations", the report said. "The goal is to create a multi-spectrum attack on enemy command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems in the early stages of conflict."

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