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[ISN] China Crafts Cyberweapons


By Sumner Lemon
IDG News Service
May 28, 2007

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) continues to build cyberwarfare units 
and develop viruses to attack enemy computer systems as part of its 
information-warfare strategy, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) 
warned in a report released on Friday.

"The PLA has established information warfare units to develop viruses to 
attack enemy computer systems and networks," the annual DOD report [1] 
on China's military warned. At the same, Chinese armed forces are 
developing ways to protect its own systems from an enemy attack, it 
said, echoing similar warnings made in previous years.

These capabilities are part of China's ongoing military modernization 
efforts, which have seen the country add dozens of high-tech fighters 
and ballistic missiles to its arsenal. China isn't alone in building the 
capability to attack an enemy's computer systems. The U.S. and other 
countries have developed similar abilities.

The PLA's virus-writing efforts have been underway for years, reflecting 
the importance that China apparently attaches to information warfare. As 
early as 2000, the DOD warned, "China has the capability to penetrate 
poorly protected U.S. computer systems and potentially could use CNA 
[computer network attacks] to attack specific U.S. civilian and military 

In recent years, the PLA has begun training more seriously for computer 
attacks, including them as part of larger military exercises in 2005.

The main focus of China's military modernization efforts are Taiwan, an 
island nation that China views as a renegade province. The two separated 
in 1949 after a civil war between the Communist and Nationalist armies, 
with the Nationalist forces retreating to Taiwan. China has long 
threatened to attack Taiwan if the island formally declares 
independence, and the expansion of China's military capabilities are 
largely geared towards a possible attack against Taiwan.

"A limited military campaign could include computer network attacks 
against Taiwans political, military, and economic infrastructure to 
undermine the Taiwan populations confidence in its leadership," the 
report said.

But the U.S., which would likely intervene in a Chinese attack on 
Taiwan, is also a potential target, it said.

[1] http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/pdfs/070523-China-Military-Power-final.pdf

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