Produced by the National Intelligence Council, National Intelligence Estimates or NIEs express the coordinated judgments of the 16 agencies comprising the U.S. intelligence community. A new NIE confirms what many online security professionals have been saying for years. China is America’s biggest cyberthreat.
(NOTE: We’ll be issuing a separate blog tomorrow, Wednesday, February 20 highlighting a New York Times February 19 article titled, “Chinese Army Unit Is Seen as Tied to Hacking Against U.S.” The article cites a report from Mandiant, “APT1: Exposing One of China’s Cyber Espiopnage Units.”
Of course NIE reports are classified. However, that never seems to stop people in the know from divulging their contents. And so it is that the Washington Post quotes the report as describing the “wide range of sectors that have been the focus of hacking over the past five years, including energy, finance, information technology, aerospace and automotive.” Also targeted were the media and the U.S. government.
It hasn’t been exactly front-page news that attacks on the Washington Post, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg have all been traced back to China.
In a piece on finance.yahoo.com, Stacy Curtin writes, “Twitter was also hacked, but the origins of that attack remain unknown. But perhaps the most disturbing case of cyberespionage involves the Federal Reserve and Department of Energy.
“These types of attacks threaten the economic competitiveness of America. While the intelligence report does not put a dollar figure on the financial impact of these cyber attacks, some experts believe it is upwards of $10 billion, according to (the Washington Post).”
According to Curtin, in the area of technology, China has been trying to play catch-up for years – just about any way it can from stealing technology to buying up U.S. companies though many of the bigger deals China pursues have been shot down by the US government over security concerns.
The Wall Street Journal quotes Dealogic, a company used by the investment banks worldwide as saying, “Last year, Chinese buyers agreed to spend more than $10 billion in 46 deals to acquire U.S. companies or stakes in U.S. firms. The volume was higher than the Chinese total from 2009 through 2011 combined.”
The latest deal to be approved by the U.S. government was the sale of battery maker A123 in January to China’s largest automotive components manufacturer for roughly $250 million.
Curtin writes, “A123 makes batteries for commercial electric cars, but it also develops technology used by the military. The acquisition of a company with military ties was worrisome; thus the sale to the Chinese firm only involved A123’s commercial division. But many experts assert that there is much overlap between the technologies used for commercial and military purposes.