Computer hackers in China, including those working on behalf of the Chinese government and military, have penetrated deeply into the information systems of U.S. companies and government agencies, stolen proprietary information from American executives in advance of their business meetings in China, and, in a few cases, gained access to electric power plants in the United States, possibly triggering two recent and widespread blackouts in Florida and the Northeast, according to U.S. government officials and computer-security experts.
Brenner, who works for Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, looks for vulnerabilities in the government’s information networks. He pointed to China as a source of attacks against U.S. interests. “Some [attacks], we have high confidence, are coming from government-sponsored sites,” Brenner said. “The Chinese operate both through government agencies, as we do, but they also operate through sponsoring other organizations that are engaging in this kind of international hacking, whether or not under specific direction. It’s a kind of cyber-militia.… It’s coming in volumes that are just staggering.”
These “other” organizations the Chinese Regulars sponsor are the plausibly deniable cats they herd.
The Chinese make little distinction between hackers who work for the government and those who undertake cyber-adventures on its behalf. “There’s a huge pool of Chinese individuals, students, academics, unemployed, whatever it may be, who are, at minimum, not discouraged from trying this out,” said Rodger Baker, a senior China analyst for Stratfor, a private intelligence firm. So-called patriotic-hacker groups have launched attacks from inside China, usually aimed at people they think have offended the country or pose a threat to its strategic interests. At a minimum the Chinese government has done little to shut down these groups, which are typically composed of technologically skilled and highly nationalistic young men. Officially, Chinese military and diplomatic officials say they have no policy of attacking other governments’ systems.
CNA is way outside my lane, and I’m only a self-tutored amateur PSYOPer, but countering any form of hostile irregular information operation, be it PSYOP, MILDEC, OPSEC, EW, or CNO, is a way for friendly irregulars to annoy the enemy, and I’m for it.
“The U.S. government doesn’t really have a policy on the use of these techniques,” said Michael Vatis, a former director of the FBI’s National Infrastructure Protection Center. “The closest analogy is to covert actions,” he said, meaning spy operations undertaken by intelligence agencies against foreign governments. “They take place, and people have strong suspicions about [who’s responsible]. But as long as they’re not able to prove it, there’s very little that they can do about it. And so there’s often not as much outrage expressed.”
The U. S. Government is always going to be a day late and a dollar short, hindered, hampered and handicapped by bureaucratic infighting, information hoarding, and Lefty congresscritters. Cyber Space Command may as well accept that and commence outreach to develop networks of Irregular iWarriors and prepare to conduct People’s Information War with Concerned Netizens.
Here’s an oldie but goodie about Civilian Irregular PSYOP counter propaganda:
The Unorganized Cyber Militia of the United States