China was deemed as threatening US cyberspace in an annual report mandated by the US Congress that points to an increase in cyber-attacks exploiting vulnerabilities in key military and government systems.
Saying that most attacks are highly targeted and specialized, the report emphasizes that the multitude of attacks, although not sophisticated in nature, have a high success rate and vital military systems are vulnerable to industrial espionage.
â€œWhile it is very difficult in cyber to have a â€˜smoking gun,â€™ so to speak, the clear paths back into servers and other mechanical devices inside of the Chinese sovereign domain remain a constant problem for us,â€ said the former vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General James Cartwright.
The report also suggests that Congress should â€œdevelop a sanctions regime to penalize specific companies found to engage in, or otherwise benefit from, industrial espionage.â€
Chinaâ€™s cyber warfare militia is believed to be comprised of individuals with regular tech jobs, focusing on communications, electronic warfare and networking skills. Combined with millions of Chinese internet users with access to millions of devices, the report surmises that Chinaâ€™s cyber capabilities could rattle U.S. military operations at any given point.
â€œChinaâ€™s persistence, combined with notable advancements in exploitation activities over the past year, poses growing challenges to information systems and their users,â€ said the US- China Economic and Security Review Commission. â€œChinese penetrations of defense systems threaten the U.S. militaryâ€™s readiness and ability to operate.â€
With China viewed as a â€œstrategic competitor of the United States,â€
Â the report concludes that boosting security in key infrastructure and military systems should be considered a top priority.