Chinese military to replace Windows OS amid fears of US hacking

Chinese military won't move to Linux, but develop a custom OS instead.
Written by Catalin Cimpanu, Contributor

Amidst an escalating trade war and political tensions with the US, Beijing officials have decided to develop a custom operating system that will replace the Windows OS on computers used by the Chinese military.

The decision, while not made official through the government's normal press channels, was reported earlier this month by Canada-based military magazine Kanwa Asian Defence.

Per the magazine, Chinese military officials won't be jumping ship from Windows to Linux but will develop a custom OS.

Thanks to the Snowden, Shadow Brokers, and Vault7 leaks, Beijing officials are well aware of the US' hefty arsenal of hacking tools, available for anything from smart TVs to Linux servers, and from routers to common desktop operating systems, such as Windows and Mac.

Since these leaks have revealed that the US can hack into almost anything, the Chinese government's plan is to adopt a "security by obscurity" approach and run a custom operating system that will make it harder for foreign threat actors -- mainly the US -- to spy on Chinese military operations.

The task of developing the new OS and replacing Windows will fall to a new "Internet Security Information Leadership Group," as first reported by the Epoch Times, citing the May issue of the Kanwa Asian Defence magazine.

Per the magazine, this new group answers directly to the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), being separate from the rest of the military and intelligence apparatus.

This is similar to how the United States Cyber Command operates as a separate entity in the US Department of Defense, separate and independent from the other US military and intelligence agencies.

In the late 90s, North Korea also developed a custom operating system for use inside the country, called Red Star OS. The OS is still alive, it is a Linux distro, but it never became the "only" official OS for government agencies, which continued to use Windows, Mac, and Linux in parallel.

North Korea's history of bold cyber attacks

Related government coverage:

Editorial standards