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Beijing Think Tank: U.S. Has the Most Powerful and Advanced Internet Attack Capabilities

[Editor’s Note: An article published on Qiushi, the official publication of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, states, “The U.S. has the most powerful and advanced Internet attack capabilities.” The author, Jiang Yong, is director of the Center for Economic Security Studies under the official think tank, the Institute of Contemporary International Relations. Jiang is also a scholar under the Ministry of State Security. The following are excerpts of Jiang’s article titled “The Internet: the New Invisible Front.”] [1]

“In recent years, the amount of information collection and transmission on the Internet, the amount of Internet involvement in major activities, and the amount of Internet business activities have all been growing rapidly. However, the United States IT giants, such as Cisco (switches), Intel (processors), Microsoft (Windows), Google (search engines), and so on, are still in monopolistic positions globally. Out of the 13 Internet root servers, 10 are located within the United States. The United States can easily play tricks with their root servers to target some other countries and make them immediately disappear from the network. In the past, Iraq, Libya and other countries suffered this destiny of being ‘erased’ from the network. Therefore, the United States has complete control over the Internet and the power to do anything. The United States is capable of guiding Internet information in the direction it desires. In addition, the Internet gap is not only a gap of wealth, but also a gap of cultural values. A person living in a rich country has a much greater opportunity to use the Internet than one who lives in a poor country. The United States has significantly greater power to control the Internet. All these have formed a great gap in the world between the ‘information plateau’ and the ‘information basin.’”

“Since 1998, the United States Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has partially managed the rapidly growing Internet regarding its technical issues. As the usage of the network is exploding and as it impacts the economy more and more, it is getting risky that in the whole world the Internet is actually controlled by the United States alone. More and more countries have begun to realize this and are getting concerned. In recent years, the cases of Internet attacks have been increasing exponentially. This really exposes the shortcomings of the Internet, due to the lack of government management. More and more countries are calling for the establishment of an international organization or for an institution that the United Nations supervises to monitor the Internet. But the United States insists on keeping the current situation and firmly resists the internationalization and democratization of Internet management.”

“It is not only individuals and some organizations that carry out the Internet attacks, but also states and governments. Before the Gulf War, through the French, the United States military sold computers with viruses to the Iraqi military. When the war broke out, these viruses caused the air defense system and command system of the Iraqi army to fail and the Iraqi army suffered terrible losses. In 2007, in Estonia, the networks in public institutions and banks were under attack for several weeks and the systems were completely paralyzed. The intelligence agencies of some countries also have spying activities online. On one hand, they publicly recruit ‘white hats’ to find network vulnerabilities and decrypt relevant information to protect their government’s network security; on the other hand, they secretly hire ‘gray hats’ from Internet hackers as their finger men to supervise the Internet hacking activities. These so called ‘armies without uniforms’ constantly receive instructions and wait for opportunities to carry out network attacks. They can make their opponents suffer as many losses as in real wars. “

“In today’s world, the United States has the most powerful and most advanced network attack capabilities. According to the numbers reported by the information security company Symantec in 2006, 33% of hackers in the world are from the United States, 46% of the ‘phishing’ websites are based in the United States, and 44% of spam emails are sent from the United States. The United States has the ability to guide network information and it also owns multiple network weapons. These weapons including both software weapons, such as the thousands of types of network worms, Trojan horses, logic bombs, ‘trap doors,’ and other computer viruses, as well as hardware weapons that are being or have been developed, including electromagnetic pulse bombs, sub-sonic, anti-satellite laser, high-power microwaves, and so on, that can carry out attacks on the physical network infrastructures of other countries.”

“Relying on monopolistic positions on the fields of technical standards, infrastructure facilities, IP resources, and domain name resolution, the United States has gained significant network dominance over other countries. In 2009, the White House published the “Cyberspace Policy Review,” [2] which pointed out that, in the 21st century, the risks in network security are the biggest challenges both to its economy and to national security. Experts said this report showed that the United States network security strategy is changing from passive defense to active threatening, and the purpose is to strengthen its network supremacy through network monopoly. Recently, the United States has been constantly exaggerating the Internet attacking capabilities of China, Russia, and other countries, as well as individual hackers, saying that the United States is suffering from unprecedented network attacks. By doing so, it finds the reasons to keep increasing its network investments to upgrade relevant technology and equipment, improve on network arms, and get in position for its network threats against other countries.”

“The United States’ cyber warfare readiness includes: having a cyber command headquarters under its military strategic headquarters in order to ‘protect critical networks and deliver forces to the cyber field’; setting up a cyber security office under the White House, with the network security coordinator also being a member of the National Security Council and the National Economic Council to develop and integrate all government network security policies, coordinate government responses to major network events, and take offensive actions; in large-scale recruiting of both domestic and foreign computer experts, establishing a network army that consists of nearly 90,000 people, and deploying ‘network warriors’ overseas into the networks of its rivals; having a large network attacking and defending exercise with the code-name ‘Cyber Storm’; in foreign propaganda, actively advertising ‘connection freedom’ in the ‘global community’ and having ‘Internet freedom’ as one of its foreign policies in the 21st century.”

“The United States’ preparation for network combat is not done by the government and military alone, but also includes major information technology companies. In the 2008 ‘Cyber Storm II’ network attack and defense exercise, there were more than 40 companies participating, including Cisco and Microsoft. The “Cyberspace Policy Review” clearly stressed that the interests of the government and private companies are intertwined. It emphasized that the partnership between the government and private companies in network security must be developed. It also clearly defined the nature of this partner relationship, including the clear roles and responsibilities for each. Since World War II, this is the first time that the United States has publicly used private forces to participate in preparing its national combat readiness. It is with this background that Google, the company long suspected of infringing on intellectual property rights in many countries, publicly joined forces with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, and even openly challenged many sovereign nations.”

“The reason that the United States is upgrading its network combat readiness is not only to make sure that no other countries can shake its network supremacy, but also to win huge economic profits and the high industry ground. Preparing network combat readiness will directly increase its fund for military enterprises and information technology companies, and will further enhance the strength of these private companies. It will also indirectly provide a huge market for its military network technology. Experts predict that over the next 10 years, the total income from the network security market will be more than 100 billion dollars, while the income from the network information market is even more valuable. In the international competition, information superiority is becoming a decisive key for each country’s comprehensive national strength. For the United States, carrying out network threats and looking for network supremacy are bound to trigger international competition in network combat readiness, while it could also become a factor in promoting the development of global networking and the information industry, and also make the future development of the global economy more highly variable.”

[1] Qiushi journal, July 1, 2010
[2] “Cyberspace Policy Review”