A recent worldwide survey of Internet based hacking attacks discovered that about a fifth of them are directed at stealing data. That’s espionage and over 90 percent of these attacks are from China. Most of the criminal Internet activity is still all about making money (via spam or outright theft).
What is interesting about the data stealing activity is that more and more of it is counter-intelligence (attacking enemy intelligence collecting) work. For example, more and more Chinese hacking is an effort to find out how Western media is finding out details of corruption inside China. Western media has published some very embarrassing data about corruption by the families of senior Chinese leaders. Chinese hackers are trying to find out who the sources in China are, so they can be silenced. The Chinese are also trying to find information about informants working for Western intelligence agencies.
While military organizations are usually very careful about guarding the identities of these informants, if you can grab enough lower-level communications within military intelligence agencies you can probably figure out who the sources within China are. The Chinese also use these techniques to discover key people in Western corporations who are developing new products or markets for existing products. Chinese firms have a big advantage knowing this sort of thing. It’s all about information and who has it. If you know what the enemy knows and they don’t know what you are all about you have a major advantage in war and peace.