Pentagon unprepared for full-scale cyber conflict, report warns

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-3-7 13:13:20

The US military is unprepared for a full-scale cyber conflict with a top adversary and must beef up its digital offensive prowess, according to a report published Wednesday.

Despite numerous actions to parry sophisticated attacks by other countries, the US efforts are "fragmented" and the Defense Department "is not prepared to defend against this threat," the Defense Science Board warned in the study, whose excerpts are reported by the Washington Post.

The US media and government have recently hyped the cyber security issue and sometimes pointed fingers at China for launching so-called "hacking attacks" against the United States, claiming they pose threat to the country's security.

However, analysts said the true intention behind the much-hyped threat is either to promote US companies' anti-hacker software and devices, or to strive for a bigger defense budget.

The report, compiled by a 33-member panel of civilian and government experts, warned of the danger that cyber attacks in conjunction with conventional warfare could damage US forces' ability to respond, create confusion on the battlefield and weaken traditional defenses, the Post reported.

To boost the Pentagon's digital defense and offensive capabilities, the report recommends a strategy that combines deterrence, refocused intelligence priorities, and a stronger offense and defense.

It urged the US intelligence community to increase its collection of information on leading nations' cyber capabilities and maintain the threat of a nuclear strike as a deterrent to a major cyber attack.

Meanwhile, it advocates establishing a clear response strategy for cyberattacks, outlining the need to use offensive cyber-capabilities preemptively or in response to an attack when the president decides it is appropriate.

It also recommends isolating critical US military systems and weapons, and equipping small numbers with advanced defensive measures to ensure they survive an attack.

Responding to the calls for protecting critical US infrastructure from cyber attacks and winning a possible cyber war in future, the Pentagon has decided to expand greatly the Cyber Command, with a new focus on developing cyber attack abilities.

Amid US allegations of so-called "cyber threat" from China, the Chinese Ministry of National Defense (MND) has refuted the US claims, saying China's armed forces had never backed any hacking activities.

China is actually a major victim of cyber attacks, MND spokesman Geng Yansheng said on Feb. 28, noting that Chinese military websites were attacked an average 144,000 times a month in 2012 by foreign hackers, with 62.9 percent from the United States.

Official websites of the MND and China Military Online, sponsored by PLA Daily of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, have been severely threatened by cyber attacks since their establishment, Geng said, adding that there has also been an increase in attacks in recent years.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China and the United States have maintained communication over the issue, adding that as cyber crime is an international problem, it should be solved through international cooperation on the basis of mutual trust and respect.

Posted in: Americas

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