China preps for cyberwarfare

Summary:An annual report on China's military capabilities reveals that the country is eying cyberweapons, network attacks and other plans to wage information warfare.The report from the Department of Defense outlines China's overall military strategy and touches on some aspects of information warfare in a few throwaway paragraphs in a large report.

An annual report on China's military capabilities reveals that the country is eying cyberweapons, network attacks and other plans to wage information warfare.

The report from the Department of Defense outlines China's overall military strategy and touches on some aspects of information warfare in a few throwaway paragraphs in a large report. The report is an interesting read that PCWorld reported yesterday.

Among the key excerpts in the report on China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) and its capabilities:

The PLA is investing in electronic countermeasures, defenses against electronic attack (e.g., electronic and infrared decoys, angle reflectors, and false target generators), and computer network operations (CNO). China’s CNO concepts include computer network attack, computer network defense, and computer network exploitation. The PLA sees CNO as critical to achieving “electromagnetic dominance” early in a conflict. Although there is no evidence of a formal Chinese CNO doctrine, PLA theorists have coined the term “Integrated Network Electronic Warfare” to prescribe the use of electronic warfare, CNO, and kinetic strikes to disrupt battlefield network information systems.

Meanwhile, the weapon of choice for these attacks seems to be the computer virus.

The PLA has established information warfare units to develop viruses to attack enemy computer systems and networks, and tactics and measures to protect friendly computer systems and networks. In 2005, the PLA began to incorporate offensive CNO into its exercises, primarily in first strikes against enemy networks.

To be sure, attacks do seem to surface from China often, but we shouldn't get carried away about the country's information warfare intentions. Rest assured every military operation out there will have a heavy information warfare component in the future.

Topics: Hardware, Networking

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Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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