CIA ON CHI­NESE CYBERSPYING

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

A se­nior CIA an­a­lyst said China is con­tin­u­ing to con­duct ag­gres­sive cy­beres­pi­onage op­er­a­tions against the U.S., con­trary to claims by se­cu­rity ex­perts who say Bei­jing curbed cy­ber­at­tacks in the past few years.

“We know the Chi­nese are very ac­tive in tar­get­ing our gov­ern­ment, U.S. in­dus­try and those of our part­ners through cy­beres­pi­onage,” said Michael Collins, deputy as­sis­tant CIA di­rec­tor and head of the agency’s East Asia Mis­sion Cen­ter.

“It’s a very real, big prob­lem, and we need to do more about it,” Mr. Collins told a re­cent se­cu­rity con­fer­ence in Aspen, Colorado.

Mr. Collins said solv­ing the prob­lem of Chi­nese cy­ber­at­tacks will re­quire an “all-of-gov­ern­ment, allof-coun­try ap­proach to push­ing back against it.”

The com­ments con­tra­dict a num­ber of cy­ber­se­cu­rity ex­perts who have said Bei­jing’s dig­i­tal spy­ing and in­for­ma­tion theft de­creased sharply as a re­sult of the 2015 agree­ment be­tween Pres­i­dent Obama and Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping.

The two lead­ers an­nounced the cy­ber deal with great fan­fare and said both coun­tries had agreed to cur­tail cy­beres­pi­onage against busi­nesses.

Last year, the cy­ber­se­cu­rity firm FireEye said in a re­port that Chi­nese hack­ing against U.S. en­ti­ties had de­clined by 90 per­cent over two years.

The most se­ri­ous cy­ber­at­tack by China was the theft of some 22 mil­lion fed­eral records from the Of­fice of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment. U.S. in­tel­li­gence and se­cu­rity of­fi­cials said the mas­sive breach of OPM records likely pro­duced an in­tel­li­gence wind­fall for China’s main hack­ing unit, the 3rd De­part­ment of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Gen­eral Staff, known as 3PLA.

The OPM hack in­cluded sen­si­tive per­sonal in­for­ma­tion on tens of thou­sands of fed­eral work­ers and con­trac­tors who have ac­cess to clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to in­tel­li­gence ex­perts, China is ex­pected to use the stolen OPM data to tar­get of­fi­cials with ac­cess to se­crets, along with tar­get­ing net­work ad­min­is­tra­tors through­out gov­ern­ment who can be hacked as part of cy­ber­op­er­a­tions de­signed to break into sen­si­tive gov­ern­ment net­works.

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