The RSA cybersecurity conference in San Francisco starts Tues., Feb. 26, with a panel that will examine recent developments in the Obama administration's cybersecurity policy however experts have been discussing the problem of cyber warfare for years.
Today, Feb. 25, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA) went on the record about the multitude of issues facing the nation. "I read the Mandiant report. I've also read other reports, classified out of Intelligence, and I think the Mandiant report, which is now unclassified, it's public, is essentially correct," Feinstein said on MSNBC.
The report traced a series of cyberattacks to a 12-story building in Shanghai and has concluded that it is almost certainly the headquarters of China’s cyber war division of the People’s Liberation Army. It is known as Unit 61398 and appears to employ possibly thousands of people. Since 2006 Mandiant has tracked Chinese hacking attacks that have stolen data from more than 141 companies across 20 major industries. These include critical infrastructure sectors such as energy and telecommunications.
Feinstein said she is "very concerned" about cyber espionage and urged the Chinese government to acknowledge the program.
"I think China has to face up to it. I think our government needs to sit down with China forthwith, present the evidence to China, ask China for its investigation, and press, press, press," she said. "This is going to no good end unless there is some agreement between our two nations and the world community for an agreement which is enforceable. One of these days there is going to be a huge cyberattack somewhere, and we must prevent that from happening."
The chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers fears that the series of hacking attacks on U.S. corporations and infrastructure facilities show the United States is losing its cyber war with China. While China has denied any connection with hacking attacks many experts maintain their focus on this growing nation.
Former Pentagon official Michael Maloof says the threat is very real, as China is engaging in a form of asymmetrical warfare being orchestrated by the People’s Liberation Army. “This is part of their strategy, and it’s not just aimed at us [the United States], but at every other industrialized country that has technology and information to share.” In his statement he further explained that rather than putting spies into locations, cyber espionage allows a nation to not only to spy, but to disrupt facilities if those facilities are vulnerable.
Cyber warfare is a real threat and was recognized by President Obama. He argued that the cyber threat facing American critical infrastructure is too great for the administration not to act amid congressional gridlock. His order sets up a program blending both the Department of Homeland Security with private corporations.
However, the looming financial sequester concerns Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. In a press conference she told White House reporters on Feb. 25 that the automatic spending cuts will make it "awfully, awfully tough” to mitigate threats against the U.S.
“I don't think we can maintain the same level of security at all places around the country with sequester compared to without sequester,” said Napolitano.
Series continues later this week – What industries or critical infrastructures are the biggest targets