U.S. National Security Adviser Warns China of Further Cyber Crimes

The U.S. National Security Adviser issued a surprisingly stern warning to China on Monday when he specifically called out the country by name when discussing cyber threats to the U.S. government and businesses.

“Increasingly, U.S. businesses are speaking out about their serious concerns about sophisticated, targeted theft of confidential business information and proprietary technologies through cyber intrusions emanating from China on an unprecedented scale,” said Tom Donilon, the U.S. National Security Adviser, in a speech to the Asian Society in New York.

President Obama and his administration has raised the level of urgency in protecting the government and domestic businesses from the increased level of cyber attacks. However, U.S. leaders have avoided calling China out by name in the past.

Obama issued a call to increase cyber protection from increasing threats in his State of the Union, but he didn’t list China as a specific threat.

“We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets. Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, and our air traffic control systems,” Obama said in his State of the Union.

On Monday, Donilon didn’t stray from naming China and pointing to the high number of cyber attacks that come from the country. He said that U.S. officials across federal agencies have addressed the concerns with Chinese leaders.

“From the President on down, this has become a key point of concern and discussion with China at all levels of our governments.  And it will continue to be,” Donilon said. “The United States will do all it must to protect our national networks, critical infrastructure, and our valuable public and private sector property.”

China has long been established as the worst offender for hosting attacks. Analysts have said thousands of cyber attacks target the White House every day. Many are assumed to emanate from China.

In September, a Chinese group of hackers reportedly broke into a White House network in what was called one of “Beijing’s most brazen cyberattacks.” The hackers broke into a “system used by the White House Military Office for nuclear commands,” according to a USA Today report.

Obama and his team have since increased the pressure on the Chinese to stop the state sponsored attacks or combat the groups responsible for them. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta discussed U.S. concerns on his last trip through the country.

Donilon went a step further issuing three steps the Chinese need to take to improve U.S. relations in regard to cyber security.

“First, we need a recognition of the urgency and scope of this problem and the risk it poses—to international trade, to the reputation of Chinese industry and to our overall relations,” he said. “Second, Beijing should take serious steps to investigate and put a stop to these activities. Finally, we need China to engage with us in a constructive direct dialogue to establish acceptable norms of behavior in cyberspace.”

Considering how the economies of the U.S. and China — the world’s two largest — depend on the Internet, these two countries must also work together in combating cyber crime, Donilon said.

“We have worked hard to build a constructive bilateral relationship that allows us to engage forthrightly on priority issues of concern.  And the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies, both dependent on the Internet, must lead the way in addressing this problem,” he said.

About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to Military.com. He can be reached at mhoffman@tandemnsi.com.
  • 10thdiv

    We might as well just beg them to not steal hundreds of billions of dollars worth of secrets from us…..short of nuclear retaliation, they will NOT stop. It is way too lucrative for them to stop…

    • Warfighter

      Agreed, though a kinetic response would end up costing all of us far more than the current state of affairs.

      We’re still tied to lowest bidder issues, which means we’re still going to be pumping billions into their economy to buy the latest gadget at the cheapest price. Until we decide to accept paying a higher price by bringing the type of work and manufacturing that is outsourced to China back home, they know they have us.

      • Russell Romick

        By doing that we end up in not only a trade deficit but end up adding trillions to our already ginormous fiscal deficit. Spending our way out will not work as you suggest. Unless you also suggest someone new will continue tocash our cheques. Oh yeah China is cashing our useless cheques already, I forgot. We cannot win a trade war, we cannot win a fair price war, we cannot win a world war. I do not have answers but I do know spending makes it worse.

  • oblat

    Of course cyber attacks aren’t even crimes anymore, they are legitimate acts of state - just ask the US cyber warfare center.

  • Vaporhead

    This type of warfare goes back to the beginning of war. It’s just that this info is much easier to extract out of computers than it is to actually implant an operative. It will never end. Each government will bicker and moan about it, but nothing will ever change.

  • riicky

    If they want our secrets just become an ally lol, our allies eventually get e erything we have lol

    • Sean

      Riicky is exactly correct. If we were allies with the Chinese, then we could not only control quality, but also keep the prices low. It makes no sense to make enemies with such a large supply of cheep labour. Improve the Chinese conditions of living at the same time as producing what we want at a reasonable price. There is no profit in war unless you are defending your nation or planning on taking over the country you are warring with. There is no point to it. Make allies, and establish mutual trade agreements. Live in peace. The Chinese are wonderful people.

  • jack

    more empty threats from Obama and his socialist gang.

  • elportonative77

    HEY! Stop that……….please.

    I’m gonna tell Mom if you keep that up! I swear I will!

  • Stan

    I swear, the only reason we are not stealing from China is because they haven’t created anything worth stealing. One way to deal with this is through
    extra-WTO trade penalties against any Chinese company known to use stolen intellectual property. Of course that would require a government willing to wage an honest to goodness trade war.

    • majr0d

      That’s a start.

      We could also pass laws for companies to sue. Enact sanctions against companies involved or doing business with them (like we’ve done with Iran). We can seize funds and accounts pending litigation etc.

      We can make the Chinese hurt but they will reciprocate.

      Anything short of that is just talk and the technology stealing will continue.

  • Dfens

    You bad old Chinese people, we’re really mad now. If you don’t stop stealing our technology we’re going to issue another sternly worded memo!

    • Restore Palestine

      China, on the other hand, is acting more like an adult, ignoring the constant, massive cyber attacks from the US against its government and businesses.

      The US is acting like a freaking spoiled kid, constantly crying “I can do this and this and this to you but you can’t do anything similar to me, or I will call Mom.”

      • Death to Pal
        • Restore Palestine

          Thank you for giving yourself away as a genuine home-grown terrorist and future police state robot.

          With brainless domestic terrorists like yourself, the demise of the US is all but guaranteed.

          You will be doing society a favor indeed. HaHa

          Where did you get your Clown Science degree, by the way?

  • BEW

    We might try to grab China by the throat, but they already have us by the balls.


    Once again. China and its cyber situation. Yes, we should build a safer network. If you ask me, companies should just have a completely separate computer system. That way, you create a sort of moat between your network and China’s hackers. The US system of lying isn’t the problem. China is. We have seen their ability to take our jobs, steal our designs for cars, drones, etc. It must stop. For all we know, China may turn into a massive Wikileaks, only giving away the top secret knowledge behind US war machines. I say create a moat between us and China. And quick.

  • Josh

    I wish they’d quit talking and actually do something. It pains me to read articles like this. Hey china you better stop or…uhhh….

    • Restore Palestine

      Like what? The US couldn’t do Jockshit with all the superior military technology, weaponry, logistical support, and financial resources in the Korean War and the Vietnam, when China was struggling economically following WWII, the Civil War, and disastrous political turmoil.

      Now China is close to parity with the US in overall military technology, R&D, and is superior to the US in economic development, financial resources, industrial production, and international relations, among many other things.

      If the US starts a war with China over there, I’ll bet the ranch that the US military will be completely humiliated if not annihilated.

  • oblat

    The underlying problem is Americas inability to compete globally. The fact is that we’d rather uselessly posture militarily then make the necessary investments in education.

    Because we refuse to change China is going to eat our lunch. Every high tech American company you know about will be replaced by a Chinese one in 20 years.

    • Dfens

      If education were really the problem, the salaries of current engineers would be climbing sharply due to a lack of supply. As it is engineering salaries have been flat to declining for about 2 decades. Young people who are capable of being engineers aren’t stupid, they see what is going on and they are opting for better careers elsewhere. One of the brightest kids in my neighborhood decided to become a lawyer instead of going into engineering. As a lawyer, he will be a net drain on our economy, but he has a responsibility to himself first, not society, certainly not to a society that penalizes consumer product innovation with lawsuits like ours does.

  • ebbe

    I do believe that China is trying to hack into our systems and has been successful - why shouldn’t they if it’s available. However, I have to believe that the NSA has capabilities that are far superior to the Chinese hackers and that the NSA probably knows exactly who the hackers are and where they’re located, and also has the ability to access to any cellphone and computer in China.

  • redordead

    “a surprisingly stern warning to China”, but not to stern of course, because we still need their loans, their products, their workforce.

    • Restore Palestine

      The ways things are going, soon the US will need China’s mercy and charity.

      It won’t be long before the US turns into a country of panhandlers.

  • http://bomniecosstrzeli.wordpress.com/ vps

    Hello! I really love this blog. Tell me please - from where do you have information for ths blog?

    • Vaporhead

      Bradley Manning.

      • Restore Palestine

        Bradley Manning is a true American hero. It’s unfortunate that he was in a military run by criminals and thugs.

  • david

    China knows Obama and his gang are scared of them.

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  • http://twitter.com/HarryInventor @HarryInventor

    You mean… like the usa’s NSA cyber snooping on China, Hong Kong and Taiwan? Or did you mean like the usa’s electronic snooping for commercial advantage against Europe and European industry? Or did you mean the usa’s cyber snooping against all american citizens?

    Those wicked Chinese and their paltry efforts.
    Almost as bad as the usa’s red-white-and-blue, star-spangled-bullflop, ah-waves-ma-cowboy-hat-in-da-air, durn-tottin’ nice spying on billions of the planet Earth’s residents?

    “Oh say can you see… ” Erm, no! It’s still dark!

    • blight_

      “usa’s electronic snooping for commercial advantage against Europe and European industry”


      First I’ve heard of it. European companies would drop the hammer on American ones if it could be proven.

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