Cyber cooperation needed

Updated: 2011-11-22 07:55

(China Daily)

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The United States continues to blame China for alleged intrusions into US government and defense industry computer networks.

This month a report released by the Project 2049 Initiative, a US-based think tank, details China's signals intelligence organization, and what role it thinks the People's Liberation Army has in collecting cyber intelligence.

And last month, a draft report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission claimed that cyber hackers "achieved all the steps required to command" a US satellite and claimed the techniques of the hackers "appear consistent with authoritative Chinese military writings".

In the court of public opinion, the US has managed to successfully portray itself as the main victim of cyber attacks.

But it is no secret that the US has already developed an information warfare doctrine and has capability to make cyber attacks on other nations.

Just before the NATO-led air strikes in Libya in March, the Obama administration intensely debated whether to start a cyber offensive to break through the firewalls of the Libyan government's computer networks to sever military communications links.

In the end, US officials decided not to launch a cyber offensive, supposedly for fear that it might set a precedent for other nations to carry out such offensives of their own.

The US military is clearly capable of conducting offensive operations in cyberspace at any time and against any country.

The Pentagon's pre-emptive strategy in responding militarily in cyberspace is aimed at preserving the US' dominance over cyberspace, regardless of its own threat to other sovereign states.

But Washington's excessive emphasis on absolute cyber security and concerns about China's growing cyber threat might lead to misjudgments and hostilities.

With both state actors and non-state actors joining the cyber game, the risks of miscalculation between states will increase, especially if a non-state hacker can infiltrate a country's military networks and launch an attack against another country.

The global nature of the Internet means that cyber attacks can originate from a hacker anywhere in the world.

Without universally acknowledged rules, cyberspace is still a field where the law of the jungle prevails.

Therefore, both China and the US should exchange strategies and information to jointly combat profit-driven cyber crimes, which account for 80 percent of all reported global cyber incidents.

With regard to cyber attacks which might trigger unintended cyber conflicts or even larger conflicts among states, China and the US should strive to build greater mutual trust by communicating more closely, especially in cases of an emergency, so as to avoid being precipitated to the point of a cyber conflict or even devastating military clashes.

(China Daily 11/22/2011 page8)