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China ‘systematically attacking’ US computer systems, says Richard Clarke


The Chinese government is “systematically attacking the computer networks of the U.S. government and American corporations,” writes Richard Clarke, a top-level counter-terrorism expert and national security adviser, in a Wall Street Journal editorial. Through these attacks, “Beijing is successfully stealing research and development, software source code, manufacturing know-how and government plans,” he writes, all of which leads to an erosion in America’s ability to compete on the global marketplace, and makes American citizens less safe.

Not only was China behind the recent attack on Google’s Gmail service, an attack that targeted top US government officials, but Clarke suspects the Chinese also are behind the attacks on RSA, which makes the SecurID encryption system, which protects some of the country’s most critical computer systems. This includes US defense contractor Lockheed Martin, who recently admitted its system had been hacked. Clarke also implies that the Chinese were behind a 2009 attack on the US electrical grid — a move that he says would give their government an upper hand militarily.

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“What would we do if we discovered that Chinese explosives had been laid throughout our national electrical system?” asks Clarke. “The public would demand a government response.”

Clarke says that Congress and the Obama administration have done woefully little to fight back against these types of cyberattacks. In fact, he writes, “U.S. officials admit that the government has no strategy to stop the Chinese cyberassault.” And the only plan the Pentagon has is of the “cyberoffense” variety, which would “be employed if China were ever to launch a massive cyberwar on the U.S.” (The Pentagon recently declared deadly or damaging cyberattacks “acts of war” that could warrant a military response.) Instead, American needs to go on the defensive, Clarke says, and make sure these types of attacks are prevented in the first place.

Read Clarke’s full editorial here.

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