The Chinese regime is likely to use “destructive” cyberattacks during a conflict, the Pentagon warns.
China’s communist regime poses the biggest threat to the United States in the cybersecurity domain, according to a newly published summary of a classified report released by the Department of Defense (DOD) on Sept. 12.
The latest report, which the Pentagon submitted to Congress in May, builds upon the “2018 DOD Cyber Strategy” and will “set a new strategic direction” for the Pentagon.
Currently, the United States is being challenged by “malicious cyber actors” seeking to exploit the nation’s technological vulnerabilities and undermine its military’s competitive edge,” the summary begins.
The Pentagon warns that such malicious cyber actors are targeting critical U.S. infrastructure and endangering the lives of the American people.
“Defending against and defeating these cyber threats is a Department of Defense imperative,” the summary continues. “As the Department’s cyber capabilities evolve, so do those of our adversaries. Both the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Russia have embraced malicious cyber activity as a means to counter U.S. conventional military power and degrade the combat capability of the Joint Force.
“The PRC in particular sees superiority in cyberspace as core to its theories of victory and represents the Department’s pacing challenge in cyberspace. Using cyber means, the PRC has engaged in prolonged campaigns of espionage, theft, and compromise against key defense networks and broader U.S. critical infrastructure, especially the Defense Industrial Base (DIB),” it reads.
Communist China, according to the strategy summary, aims to gain dominance in cyberspace to become a “superpower” with “commensurate political, military, and economic influence” and is already attempting to shape the global technology ecosystem by exporting dangerous cyber capabilities to allied nations, and working to “accelerate the rise of digital authoritarianism around the globe.”
The Chinese regime routinely conducts malicious cyber activity against the United States as well as its allies and partners, the strategy notes, citing Beijing’s surveillance efforts of U.S. citizens and those considered enemies of the state, among other actions.
“Its efforts abroad are complemented by material strengths at home: a large technology industry and workforce, capable counterintelligence and cybersecurity systems, and an array of proxy organizations empowered to pursue malicious cyber activity,” the report reads. “This malicious cyber activity informs the PRC’s preparations for war.”
The Chinese regime, according to the strategy summary, poses a “broad and pervasive” cyber-espionage threat.
Russia Is ‘Acute Threat’ to US
Meanwhile, Russia remains an “acute threat” to the United States in cyberspace, the summary warns, pointing to the country’s “malign influence efforts” aimed at manipulating and undermining confidence in U.S. elections.
“Russia targets U.S. critical infrastructure as well as that of Allies and partners. It continues to refine its espionage, influence, and attack capabilities. In Russia’s war on Ukraine, Russian military and intelligence units have employed a range of cyber capabilities to support kinetic operations and defend Russian actions through a global propaganda campaign,” DOD officials wrote.
Russia has also used cyberattacks to disrupt Ukrainian military logistics amid the ongoing invasion, sabotage civilian infrastructure,