US DoD: ‘China Ramped Up Cyber Warfare Capabilities in 2015’

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The Chinese military is investing a huge amount of resources into developing its offensive and defensive cyber capabilities, believing them to be the key to seizing “information dominance” in the early stages of any future conflict, according to a new US government report.

The Defense Department’s annual Report to Congress on Chinese military and security was published on Friday and noted that for the first time last year, Beijing described cyberspace as “a new domain of national security and area of strategic competition.”

The Communist Party believes China’s cyber capabilities lag those in rival countries so it has ploughed considerable resources into developing them.

It views “information dominance” as a key strategy to effectively winning a military conflict in its early stages.

The report explained:

“The PLA would likely use Electronic Wardare, cyberspace operations (CO), and deception to augment counterspace and other kinetic operations during a wartime scenario to deny an adversary’s attainment and use of information. Chinese military writings describe informationized warfare as an asymmetric way to weaken an adversary’s ability to acquire, transmit, process, and use information during war and to force an adversary to capitulate before the onset of conflict.”

Cyber warfare capabilities help China in three areas, the DoD continued:

“First and foremost, they allow the PLA to collect data for intelligence and potential offensive cyberoperations (OCO) purposes. Second, they can be employed to constrain an adversary’s actions or to slow response time by targeting network-based logistics, communications, and commercial activities. Third, they can serve as a force-multiplier when coupled with kinetic attacks during times of crisis or conflict.”

The Department of Defense explained its networks had been on the receiving end of Chinese military espionage efforts over the past year, suggesting that the information gleaned could be used to benefit China’s own defense and hi-tech industries, and also to inform party officials about US leadership thinking on the Middle Kingdom.

It added:

“Targeted information could inform Chinese military planners’ work to build a picture of US defense networks, logistics, and related military capabilities that could be exploited during a crisis. The accesses and skills required for these intrusions are similar to those necessary to conduct cyberattacks.”

China has predictably reacted strongly to the report, claiming it has undermined trust between the two superpowers and “deliberately distorted” Beijing’s military policy.

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