Information Warfare: August 28, 2005

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The Pentagon calls it Titan Rain, a code name for the unofficial cyberwar China has been waging against American computer networks for several years. Department of Defense computers have always been a favorite target for foreign hackers. The number of attacks has been increasing more than 50 percent a year, and is headed for over 100,000 in 2005. But for the past few years, there has been a growing number, and pattern, of attacks coming from China. Pentagon officials now openly discuss this cyberwar, even though China officially denies everything. At the same time, Chinese military journals are full of discussions about cyberwar, and the importance of the it any future war. Chinese commanders are forming more cyberwar units, and incorporating cyberwar operations into their military exercises. 

But success in cyberwar is more a matter of quality than quantity. The large number of hacker attacks on thousands of Pentagon computer systems (using several million PCs) is seen as a combination of training, and collecting information for a future, more serious, wartime attack. The Chinese say little about attacks on their own military networks, which are apparently taking place more frequently. There are a growing number of Chinese troops on the Internet, and the Chinese have long advocated the use of inexpensive personal computer technology to increase the combat power of their armed forces. Cyberwar, however, is a relatively untried weapon. Like with electronic warfare, you prepare your cyberwar weapons in advance, keep them secret, and hope the enemy has not already figured out how to defeat them or, worse, come up with cyberwar attacks you are unaware of. China is preparing cyberwar weapons, and we wont know how effective they are until they try to use them.

 


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