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U.S. lawmakers point to China as cause of cyberattacks

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers calls on the U.S. and its allies to put pressure on the Chinese government for cyber-espionage

By Grant Gross
October 4, 2011 03:27 PM ET

IDG News Service - U.S. government officials need to put more pressure on their Chinese counterparts to stop a "pervasive" cyber-espionage campaign targeting U.S. companies, a U.S. lawmaker said Tuesday.

Espionage sponsored by the Chinese government has resulted in "brazen and wide-scale theft of intellectual property of foreign commercial competitors," said U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Espionage targeting other nations' military and government secrets has been common for centuries, but the Chinese government is conducting a "massive trade war" on other countries by targeting private businesses, said Rogers, a Michigan Republican.

"I don't believe that there is a precedent in history for such a massive and sustained intelligence effort by a government to blatantly steal commercial data and intellectual property," he said during a committee hearing. "China's economic espionage has reached an intolerable level and I believe that the United States and our allies in Europe and Asia have an obligation to confront Beijing and demand that they put a stop to this piracy."

A representative of the Chinese embassy in Washington denied Rogers' allegations. "As my government has seriously and repeatedly pointed out, allegations of China conducting cyberspace espionage are unwarranted and irresponsible," spokesman Wang Baodong said. "As a victim of international cyberspace hacking activities, China is firmly against such criminal acts, and it has been working hard together with the international community for a more secure cyberspace. Facts should be respected, and accusations against China should be stopped."

Rogers wasn't the only speaker at the hearing to criticize the Chinese government. The U.S. is "being attacked in an aggressive way" by China and possibly other countries, said Representative Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the committee.

Michael Hayden, former director of the U.S. National Security Agency and the CIA agreed. "As a professional intelligence officer, I step back in awe of the breadth, the depth, the sophistication, the persistence of the Chinese espionage effort against the United States of America," said Hayden, now with security consulting firm the Chertoff Group.

During the hearing, lawmakers questioned Art Coviello, executive chairman of RSA Security, about the breach of his company's SecurID authentication product earlier this year. Coviello described the type of phishing and social engineering attack that led to the compromise as being "very, very sophisticated" and previously unseen by investigators.

Rogers asked if thieves who pulled off the RSA attack were likely sponsored by another nation. "Our conclusion -- especially in our discussions with law enforcement -- is that this could not have been perpetrated by anyone other than a nation state," Coviello said.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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