US points finger at China, Russia over cyber spying

3rd November 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Chinese are the world's "most active and persistent perpetrators" of economic espionage, a US intelligence officer said on Thursday in an unusually blunt report on a sensitive topic.

The report on cyber espionage submitted to the US Congress also pointed the finger at Russia's intelligence services, saying they were targeting US firms for economic information and technology.

The report, "Foreign Spies Stealing US Economic Secrets in Cyberspace," was compiled by the office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, part of the office of the Director of National Intelligence.

It included contributions from a number of US government agencies including the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as the private sector.

The National Counterintelligence Executive is responsible for defending against foreign intelligence threats to the United States.

Those threats increasingly involve the theft of US intellectual property and trade secrets, according to the report, which said cyber espionage has become "a larger threat than more traditional spying methods."

"Foreign economic collection and industrial espionage against the United States represent significant and growing threats to the nation's prosperity and security," the report said.

Cyberspace "amplifies" these threats by making it possible to "quickly steal and transfer massive quantities of data while remaining anonymous and hard to detect," it said.

"Chinese actors are the world's most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage," the report said.

"US private sector firms and cybersecurity specialists have reported an onslaught of computer network intrusions that have originated in China, but the (US intelligence community) cannot confirm who was responsible," it said.

Between 2009 and 2011, "computer networks of a broad array of US government agencies, private companies, universities, and other institutions -- all holding large volumes of sensitive economic information -- were targeted by cyber espionage," the report said.

"Much of this activity appears to have originated in China," it said.

In addition, the report said "Russias intelligence services are conducting a range of activities to collect economic information and technology from US targets."

"Moscow's highly capable intelligence services are using HUMINT (human intelligence), cyber, and other operations to collect economic information and technology to support Russia's economic development and security," it said.

The United States has generally been reluctant to level such direct accusations at China and Russia and Robert Bryant, head of the National Counterintelligence Office, was asked about the unusual candor of the report.

"What I'm looking for is solutions to what I see is a very serious problem facing the economic viability of the United States of America to go forward," Bryant said at an event held at the National Press Club to release the report

"The nations of China and Russia, through their intelligence services and through their corporations, are attacking our research and development," he said. "We want to basically point out what the issue is."

© 2011 AFP

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