Under attack in America: Pentagon - China's cyberattack capabilities are the biggest threat to the US

WASHINGTON, DC - “It’s China, stupid.”

China, not climate change, appears to present the greatest threat to the United States, and a recent report from the Pentagon seems to confirm that.

The Washington Examiner reports that the Department of Defense believes China poses the greatest threat to the United States, particularly in the area of cybersecurity, according to a newly declassified summary of a classified report sent to Congress last May.

The unclassified portion of the report serves as a basis for the DoD’s strategy for implementing the 2022 National Security Strategy, the 2022 National Defense Strategy, and the 2023 National Cybersecurity Strategy.

“This strategy draws on lessons learned from years of conducting cyber operations and our close observation of how cyber has been used in the Russia-Ukraine war,” Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy John Plumb said.

“It has driven home the need to work closely with our allies, partners, and industry to make sure we have the right cyber capabilities, cyber security, and cyber resilience to help deter conflict and to fight and win if deterrence fails.”

 According to the Daily Caller, the Chicoms believe cyberspace is critical in any effort to engage the United States in war and have committed to dominate the information domain in any such conflict, the document read.

The communist nation believes that its ability to strengthen its cybersecurity capabilities will reduce the U.S. military's ability to operate, the report says. That deviates from the 2018 version of the same reports, which reported China would likely operate its stolen intellectual property program via hacking, reported Politico.

The report comes after news of Chinese efforts to engage in cyberattacks at networks serving U.S. military bases in Guam and elsewhere.

“The PRC [Peoples Republic of China], in particular, sees superiority in cyberspace as core to its theories of victory,” the strategy document reads. Such “malicious” cyber activity drives the way China prepares for conflict.

“In the event of conflict, the PRC likely intends to launch destructive cyber attacks against the U.S. Homeland to hinder military mobilization, sow chaos, and divert attention and resources. It will also likely seek to disrupt key networks which enable Joint Power projection in combat,” according to the strategy.

Numerous reports throughout the U.S. media revealing China’s hacking operations targeting the U.S. homeland have caused concern among U.S. officials.

For example, in May, Microsoft revealed that a Chinese government-backed hacking group called Volt Typhoon launched cyber attacks on critical American networks, including in Guam, where it is believed to have spied on the U.S. to gain an advantage in any future actions. U.S. officials admitted in July that the Guam operation was just one piece of a year-long plan to plant malicious code in sensitive networks, The New York Times reported.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller wouldn’t confirm China’s culpability in the hack at that time. However, he noted the department didn’t have evidence to refute that.

Ominously, the affected networks controlled power grids, water supply, and communications systems that support the U.S. military. However, they are also connected to civilian systems, the Times noted. One member of Congress described the malware as a “ticking time bomb,” which he believes could disrupt U.S. military operations and cripple our response.

“This malicious cyber activity informs the PRC’s preparations for war,” the strategy continued while adding China has reorganized and modernized its military apparatus in striving for that goal.

The DoD document revealed our own offensive cyber operations short “of armed conflict.”

“Our adversaries will be made to doubt the efficacy of their military capabilities as well as the belief that they can conduct unattributed coercive actions against the United States,” the strategy continued.
The report found the CCP believes cybersecurity superiority forms the “core” tenet of its “theories of victory” while adding that it has “engaged in prolonged campaigns of espionage, theft, and compromise against key defense networks and broader U.S. critical infrastructure.”

“Importantly, the strategy emphasizes that the Department will continue to collaborate with domestic partners across the federal government to share best practices and expertise,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy Mieke Eoyang told reporters.

“We will deepen our relationship with private industry through voluntary and timely information sharing. And closing as the cyber domain has grown, foreign adversaries have exploited to identify U.S. vulnerabilities, commit espionage, steal intellectual property, violate U.S. sovereignty, and recently to wage war.”

China isn't the only threat faced by the United States, however. Eoyang told reporters that the strategy identifies the PRC as the department’s “pacing challenge in the cyber domain and recognizes the significant threat that Russia poses in cyberspace.”
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