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China’s cyber capabilities continue to be an increasing threat to local and global adversaries, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Defense.
In a report to Congress, “Military and security developments involving the People’s Republic of China,” the department warned China was developing the capability to mount serious battlefield and long-range attacks on information systems.
“In 2009, numerous computer systems around the world, including those owned by the U.S. Government, continued to be the target of intrusions that appear to have originated within the PRC (People’s Republic of China),” the report said. “These intrusions focused on exfiltrating information, some of which could be of strategic or military utility. The accesses and skills required for these intrusions are similar to those necessary to conduct computer network attacks. It remains unclear if these intrusions were conducted by, or with the endorsement of, the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) or other elements of the PRC government. However, developing capabilities for cyber warfare is consistent with authoritative PLA military writings.
“In March 2009, Canadian researchers uncovered an electronic spy network, apparently based mainly in China, which had reportedly infiltrated Indian and other nations’ government offices around the world. More than 1,300 computers in 103 countries were identified,” the report said.
In the battlefield, the concept of cyber warfare has long been part of China’s defense strategy, with PLA theorists using the term “integrated network electronic warfare” to describe network operations, and kinetic strikes to disrupt battlefield information systems of its enemies.
“China is also developing electronic and information warfare capabilities, including denial and deception, to defeat those of its adversaries,” the report warned.
“[China sees] integrated network electronic warfare as one of the basic forms of integrated joint operations, suggesting the centrality of seizing and dominating the electromagnetic spectrum in its campaign theory.”

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