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Report calls China biggest cyberthreat

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Reposted from Politico

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Report calls China biggest cyberthreat

Eliza Krigman | November 15, 2012 | Politico

Ongoing Chinese cyberattacks on U.S. industry and government present a significant threat and the Defense Department should consider its ability to exclude “any foreign-produced equipment” that could pose cybersecurity vulnerabilities, a new report to Congress recommended Wednesday.

The bipartisan U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, in its annual report to Congress released Wednesday, found that China is “the most threatening actor in cyberspace.” Identifying “individual penetration remains difficult to attribute,” the report states, “but security researchers are increasingly able to group exploitations into ‘campaigns’ based on common features and gain better insight into those responsible.”

Ultimately, their work finds that in 2012, “Chinese state-sponsored actors continued to exploit U.S. government, military, industrial and nongovernmental computer systems.”

The 12-member panel conducted its work through six public hearings; briefings with government officials; a trip to the Philippines, China and Taiwan to meet with U.S. diplomats; and hosting government officials, among other things.

The study, which found that China “presents the largest challenge to U.S. supply chain integrity,” is likely to embolden lawmakers that have been investigating two Chinese companies, Huawei and ZTE, for the security risks they pose.

“Many components of defense systems and telecommunications infrastructure are manufactured in China or sourced from Chinese entities,” the report states. “This yields active problems with counterfeit and substandard components and raises the potential for the introduction into critical systems of intentionally subverted components.”

To the extent China succeeds in promoting its brand of cybergovernance, it could harm free speech, the commissioners found.

If other countries embrace China’s desire to boost “state control over the Internet,” it “would have adverse consequences for free speech and other norms and would come at the expense of nongovernmental participation in Internet administration,” the report continues.

To deal with Chinese cyberthreats, the commission recommends the Defense Department report to Congress on whether it can exclude “acquisition of any foreign-produced equipment from any department system where there is a concern as to the potential impact of cyber vulnerabilities.”

It also recommends having the relevant congressional committees study Chinese cyberespionage and produce an unclassified report. And lastly, the report recommends Congress conduct a legal review of the penalties imposed for businesses “found to engage in, or benefit from, industrial espionage.”

According to Reuters, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei condemned the report Wednesday.

“The relevant commission has not let go of its Cold War mentality. We hope the relevant commission can discard its prejudice, respect facts and cease its interference in China’s internal politics and making of statements that are harmful to China-U.S. relations,” Hong told reporters in Beijing, Reuters said.

“Regarding Internet security, we have repeatedly pointed out that China resolutely opposes Internet attacks and has established relevant laws,” Hong added.

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