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How China Will Use Cyber Warfare To Leapfrog Foes 235

Posted by Soulskill
from the cold-war-two-point-oh dept.
The Walking Dude writes "A lengthy article published in Culture Mandala details how China is using cyber warfare (PDF) as an asymmetric means to obtain technology transfer and market dominance. Case studies of Estonia, Georgia, and Project Chanology point towards a new auxiliary arm of traditional warfare. Political hackers and common Web 2.0 users, referred to as useful idiots (PDF), are being manipulated through PSYOPS and propaganda to enhance government agendas."
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How China Will Use Cyber Warfare To Leapfrog Foes

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  • The Golden Tool. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ostracus (1354233) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @11:22AM (#25602667) Journal

    "A lengthy article published in Culture Mandala details how China is using cyber warfare (PDF) as an asymmetric means to obtain technology transfer and market dominance."

    And when they've achieved their goals how will they feel when the next superpower does them the same way?

    • Re:The Golden Tool. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Halo1 (136547) <jonas.maebeNO@SPAMelis.ugent.be> on Sunday November 02, 2008 @11:35AM (#25602745) Homepage

      And when they've achieved their goals how will they feel when the next superpower does them the same way?

      It's not like the current superpower doesn't use "cyber warfare" to obtain technology transfer and market dominance [europa.eu] (search for "Published cases".

      There's nothing really new here, except for possibly some alternate methodologies.

      • Thanks for the list.

        As an European, I'm somewhat disappointed that our governments don't close most US installation over this.

        • You guys wouldn't do that... you might want to take a peak at all the juicy info too. ;-)

          Like it or not, USA and Europe are tied to the hip as allies.
          • I'm sure that our governments would like that, and the US intelligence service probably drop them a few morsels now and then to keep them happy.

            But overall, I still think that tolerating US espionage on a large scale is a bad idea. Because it seems to me that the USA view their allies as vassals rather than partners, and that we will always get a bad deal from playing the junior partner to the NSA.

            • The Bush administration views Europeans as inferior, not the USA. The Bush administration is NOT the USA.

              I think ridding Europe of the specter of Soviet invasion was a pretty good deal for Europe. The US/European hegemony is what is keeping order and peace in the world right now - I think it's working relatively well.
  • China's advantage (Score:5, Informative)

    by daveschroeder (516195) * on Sunday November 02, 2008 @11:30AM (#25602719)

    "Information Warfare" (IW), sometimes called Information Operations (IO), spans several arenas, from the purely technical to the social and psychological. The goals and missions of IO and intelligence in general, particularly against and within non-free societies, will constantly be at odds with the democratic nature of the United States and the West. Even so, the United States currently doesn't appear to acknowledge the scope of the information campaigns China has executed against it. The thought in some circles that China isn't the danger others believe it to be is apparently proof that China's long-standing information campaigns to convince Americans of just that appear to be working quite well. China's motives are strategic rather than tactical in nature; that is, they do not necessarily serve any direct or immediate specific purpose, but rather serve to create influence in its own favor over long periods of time. For this reason, many in the US see China as something of a misunderstood ally, while China simultaneously builds out its military capability.

    While cyber warfare is now routinely considered in various analyses of China and other nations, the larger question of why China is so diligently pursuing this path is overlooked. China's activities in this realm are assumed to be part of a natural technological progression. However, a study of literature examining China's efforts in Information Warfare viewed against the backdrop of the importance of the Information Revolution which is sweeping the globe paints a picture of a nation looking to the information realm as a critical and key mechanism to modernize its military capabilities. Similar to how the Industrial Revolution ushered in a new era and greatly enhanced nations' abilities to wage war, the Information Revolution again could change the face of conflict. China's motivations for expanding its cyber warfare capabilities against the United States may transcend that of simple technological evolution, and warrant a deeper examination. Why, then, can China be expected to expand its Information Warfare capabilities, particularly with respect to the United States?

    The US Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute encapsulates these findings in one simple thought: to China's leadership, it could mean a pathway to modernization that would obviate the need for costly and time-consuming interim modernization. "IW offers opportunities to win wars without the traditional clash of arms" (Yoshihara 2001). Indeed, China appears to be focused on the notion of such asymmetric warfare. Yoshihara (2001) goes on to explore the current state of Chinese IW and IO philosophy. The focus of Chinese theoreticians appears squarely focused on the possibility of IW offering China a decisive option to defeat a superior adversary by crippling its command and control capabilities. Moreover, Yoshihara (2001) notes that some Chinese military scholars consider the notion of victory without conventional battle; not only via disabling information-based attacks in the electronic realm, but even via more subtle psychological operations (PSYOP) designed to alter and shape an adversary's thinking.

    Part of China's motivations for the intense focus on the information realm stems from China's fascination with recent conflicts driven by information. China witnessed the decisive US tactical victory in the Persian Gulf War, and wondered how such practice could be applied by its own military. China is cognizant of the fact that it, too, will be subject to information-based attacks as it becomes more dependent on information-based systems. China's focus is on building a high technology war-fighting machine, with the prospect of skipping costly interim steps to modernize its military capabilities.

    Pervasive in the Chinese writing on IW is the notion of shaping the environment to facilitate military objectives; critically, the Chinese "view information warfare as a tool to counter the overwhelming military superiority of the United States" (Armistead 2001). It is this thought

    • Am I forgiven if I would prefer a hypothetical US/China war to take place without too much killing? I always find it odd how such paradigm shifts are somehow read as ingenuity if they come from ones own side and cheating if they come from the other. But this seems like a step in a sensible direction from a purely humanitarian standpoint, at least when set against the alternative.

      Not, you understand, that I share the view that, for example, Taiwan is a 'natural' part of China. I don't happen to think that

      • by khallow (566160)

        Am I forgiven if I would prefer a hypothetical US/China war to take place without too much killing?

        I suppose so. But wars often have a habit of not stopping when you think they should. A war that starts with information warfare could very well end with an exchange of nuclear weapons. That's the perils of escalation.

      • You're forgiven for being naive. What do you think a soldier would do with an opposing soldier who is "blind, deaf, and paralyzed"?
    • by Hasai (131313)

      Excellent analysis of the situation. The "egg against a rock" appraisal is pretty-much the universal conclusion of most people who don't fall prey to the "counting noses" fallacy (i.e.: First Persian Gulf War).

      I wonder, however, if this research on the part of the Red Chinese also includes an unbiased analysis of the impact of IW upon their military's own, highly-rigid C3I infrastructure and whether they will dare an attempt to fix it, given the typical totalitarian state's paranoia toward its own armed for

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098)

      What I always find interesting in your posts is the pervasive paranoia about Chinese PSYOPS.

      The thought in some circles that China isn't the danger others believe it to be is apparently proof that China's long-standing information campaigns to convince Americans of just that appear to be working quite well.

      There are many problems with this sentence:
      1) There is no way to corroborate its premise. "Some circles" and "is apparently proof" mean absolutely nothing. Either name the circles, or don't propagate the

    • As one Chinese military expert put it, such an asymmetric information-based attack would render US military forces "blind," "deaf," and "paralyzed" (Cliff 2007). Direct, large scale attacks against US computer and information systems, either via disabling electromagnetic weapons or hacking, would be a part of this attack strategy.

      Just so you know, a single high-altitude atomic detonation would create such a powerful EMP, it would fry any and all devices that use unshielded silicon chips. It would throw the

      • An electromagnetic weapon [wikipedia.org], such as an E-bomb [slashdot.org], doesn't imply only an above-ground nuclear detonation for the purpose of creating an electromagnetic pulse -- though that is often the first thing that comes to mind. Nor does it even imply a bomb or explosion.

        You can also have directed energy weapons that disable electronic gear on a much smaller scope and scale (say, a naval vessel). This is the kind of attack we're talking about -- not a nuclear detonation.

        That's not to say the US still wouldn't respond with

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @11:35AM (#25602755) Journal

    "Useful idiots" in this document is referring SOLELY to the 'patriotic hackers' - ie unofficial pro-China hackers who cheerfully attack anti-Chinese or other targets of opportunity without official support or sanction.

    The Useful Idiots that the summary refers to have been around forever: people who are easily manipulated by professional intelligence services without a great deal of effort because they are naive, idealistic, or simply ignorant - such as the Red Army Faction, the German anti-nuke movement, and protests against Reagan in the 80s.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Watson Ladd (955755)
      Or the ex-Nazi's who bombed Piazza Fortana in 1968. Or the American public who supported a gang of thugs who attempted to topple a democratically elected government in Nicaragua. If this is sophistication, pray for the sake of the world that we have more naivety.
    • The Useful Idiots that the summary refers to have been around forever: people who are easily manipulated by professional intelligence services without a great deal of effort because they are naive, idealistic, or simply ignorant

      This has been going on in industry for years. PR and advertising firms manipulate public discourse in social media at the service of industry and political causes, including here at Slashdot. What the Chinese are doing is simply capitalizing on the very large effect that can a s

  • by cyberkahn (398201) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @11:46AM (#25602829) Homepage

    It's a lot easier to perform the manufacturing for a competing country and then just copy their design. It amazes me how naive American companies are when they outsource to China and then are amazed when their products are copied.

    • Products can be copied without having outsourced them in the first place.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      And yet by doing that, you are always copying yesterday's design and never quite catching up to the competition. That's what the Soviets discovered the hard way and the Chinese are set to rediscover. You can't pretend to innovate by copying. You have innovate independently to get ahead.

      • And yet by doing that, you are always copying yesterday's design and never quite catching up to the competition. That's what the Soviets discovered the hard way and the Chinese are set to rediscover. You can't pretend to innovate by copying. You have innovate independently to get ahead.

        If there's one thing that Microsoft's rise to dominance suggests, it's that copying the true innovators goes far, as long as it's cheap, and your consumers are convinced it's good enough.

        The Soviets didn't sell things to the largest consumer markets in the world, nor did the big companies in those markets ship the majority of their manufacturing to them. Most consumers don't give a damn about quality or innovation because it costs more up front.

      • And yet by doing that, you are always copying yesterday's design and never quite catching up to the competition. That's what the Soviets discovered the hard way and the Chinese are set to rediscover.

        The Chinese have already discovered it, judging by the fact that they have mostly moved from Soviet weaponry to their own, locally designed as well as produced, and have developed it quite a bit from where they started - tanks, planes, even assault rifles.

        However, copying is still useful as it provides easy m

      • by jc42 (318812)

        And yet by doing that, you are always copying yesterday's design and never quite catching up to the competition.

        There are two almost opposite but relevant responses to this.

        The first is Microsoft. They've shown that it doesn't matter if you don't quite catch up to the technical leaders. If you have the biggest marketing budget and customers who mostly can't recognize quality products, you'll win the war while the innovators fight the battles with each other. You watch the innovators, make cheap knockoffs

      • You mean like how Microsoft keeps innovating instead of copying others to ... er... never mind.

    • It's not a good long-term strategy. Manufacturing costs are continually falling. For around $500 you can build a rapid prototyper which will build almost all of the components needed to create a copy of it. On an industrial scale, this kind of progress is doing even better. Within ten years, expect factories that can be reconfigured in software to produce any kind of consumer electronics (they already exist for certain categories of products). When this happens, a large workforce is no use - fabricatio

  • by JohnnyComeLately (725958) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @12:34PM (#25603119) Homepage Journal
    Very good write up, but repeats itself and occasionally goes off on tangents. The US GPS info is wrong. GPS is not used for communications. L-Band is one way with no receivers on the bird. It (GPS) does cross-link NUDET data, but again, this isn't comm. There also aren't "five alternate constellations." There's just one constellation of 24 satellites. There are 6 orbits, with 4 birds per orbit. As he mentions, if you knock one out, then there is no way you're taking another satellite from another orbit and bringing it over. It would defy the law of physics (aka orbital mechanics) and even if those could be overcome, there's no where near enough hydrazine on the satellite to pull it off. There is a possibility they'd knock one satellite out that had an on-orbit spare nearby, but that would be an exception not norm.
  • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @12:37PM (#25603145) Homepage Journal

    What do you think freepers are? They may be dumb as bricks, but they know how to stay on message and work as a team.

    Now they're really starting to lose it as Obama is practically a shoe-in. Expect them to start lashing out in the coming months, online and off-line. Everything from website vandalism to murdering people like that guy in Tennessee.

  • This is propagandising at worst, fearmongering bullshit at best. Most of the attacks in the second link were unattributed or only loosely attributed to China, the pdf assumes from the start that China is developing asymetrical warfare capabilities then ponders on what they might be. Logically, of course every large nation has some form of cyber warfare capability, it's just that I doubt that China has any real advantage in this sphere.

  • The Big Question (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Tablizer (95088)

    Our heavy trade relationship with China is based on the assumption that capitalism leads to democracy. But, what if this is not the case? If we are wrong, we've merely created another Soviet Union. Is there any current evidence that the premise is working? Chinese citizens seem as nationalistic as ever.

    • by TheLink (130905)
      "Our heavy trade relationship with China is based on the assumption that capitalism leads to democracy."

      "Chinese citizens seem as nationalistic as ever."

      Do you know they actually have elections in China?

      Sure they only effectively have one party, but as you say, they seem as nationalistic as ever (looking at the thousands of volunteers in the Olympics - they weren't slave labour, or faking their enthusiasm), so it may well be that "One Party" is as many as they want.

      After all, the USA seems to be happy enoug
    • based on the assumption that capitalism leads to democracy

      No, capitalism is a PREREQUISITE for democracy, not a guarantee that it will happen.

  • Sigh, it is quite unfortunate that just because one nation rises, it must usually have a very nasty war to get to the top. But this truly is the nature of things, I suppose.

    So, operating under the unfortunate assumption that the US and China will be enemies, we must build India. It is out only chance to have a decisive advantage. India + USA + Europe will beat China + Russia(?) + (portions of) Africa(??). Maybe we can get the Brazilians on our side for good measure.
  • to this kind of asymmetrical warfare. If China cripples the US economy with information warfare, or even by ceasing to by US debt, then the US loses the ability to buy cheap Chinese crap. If no cheap Chinese crap is bought, the peasants get restless and start doing things like protesting in Tiananmen Square, which is what happened the last time the Chinese economy was doing anything but growing by leaps and bounds.

    Given a situation in which the United States and China and Europe are going through rocky eco

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