Hagel Calls Out China on Cyber Attacks

130531-D-BW835-280Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was the latest U.S. leader to name China as one of the leading threats to U.S. cyber security when he made a speech on his trip to Singapore over the weekend.

“The United States has expressed our concerns about the growing threat of cyber intrusions, some of which appear to be tied to the Chinese government and military,” Hagel said at a defense conference on June 1.

Hagel offered some comments even before he arrived to Singapore to reporters flying with him on his plane. As the issue of cyber security grows and more leaders highlight the threat to national security, more questions have arisen within the question and answer sessions leaders hold with the media.

Hagel made his comments in Singapore after the Washington Post reported that a Defense Science Board had found that China had hacked into the designs of dozens of the U.S. military’s top weapons programs. Using that report as a news peg, Hagel was asked if he thought “the strategy of calling out China publicly has borne fruit?’

The defense secretary back pedaled a bit saying it’s difficult to prove who conducts a cyber attack but he said the Pentagon could tell where the attacks start.

“It’s pretty hard to prove that they are directed by any specific entity.  But we can tell where they come from.  And I think we’ve got to be honest with that — about that.  I think we’ve got to let people know that,” Hagel said on May 31.

He said the U.S. would prefer to keep these concerns private, but the threat has forced leadership to shine a public light on it.

“You solve these problems and you get to an understanding by using the other range of your — of your capacities and that’s more private,” Hagel said on May 31. “But it has to be public as well.  And we’ll deal with this.  We must deal with this.  This is a very dangerous threat to all of us.”

He further defined his concern with the growing threat of cyber attacks and the level of worry the Pentagon has about them.

“Cyber threats are real.  They’re terribly dangerous.  They’re probably as insidious and real a threat to the United States — as well as China, by the way — and every nation.  This is not a threat just unique to America.  It’s unique to no one.  It crosses all borders,” Hagel 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.
  • Michael

    What makes the cyber intrusions from China so unique is our economic co-dependence with them. True “it’s unique to no one” and “crosses all borders”, but when the intrusions are voluminous, compromising to national security, and originating from a high-level economic partner, it’s a little more than unique. This is bad…real real bad.

    • PolicyWonk

      Correct – this is a very bad situation.

      And its also a part of the situation that Pat Buchanan warned about repeatedly in his many editorials from 2002-2008.

      • guest

        You can thank Bill Clinton for signing the NAFTA treaty that lead to the relocation of jobs and factories to Communist China and ultimately wiped out the American Middle Class workers.

    • Restore Palestine

      Only the very naive and the uninformed would actually buy into this kind of propaganda.

      The US is by far the biggest source of cyber security threat. No other country even come close. To cover up the persistent security intrusions and disruptions to other countries, the US govt is pulling the oldest and the lamest dirty trick in its bag – false flag operations followed by false accusations.

      Of course the average American is too dumb and too brainwashed to see through any of this. Besides, it’s just too painful psychologically to face the truth.


        All hail Chairman Mao and his comrade Putin!


        • Restore Palestine

          At least Mao and Putin had more backbone and talent than GW Bush, Obama, Clinton, GH Bush, Reagan, …

      • Corvan

        So go ahead and explain why virtually every government across the west is reporting exactly the same thing? Let me guess, it’s a conspiracy!

        Grow up & take your childish grudge somewhere else.

        • Restore Palestine

          When it comes to anything cyber, you are the child here, and don’t have the slightest clue about false flag cyber operations and the unified propaganda apparatus (what you would call “every government across the west” because of your sheer ignorance and lack of basic education and common sense).

          You need to take your own advice and grow up. It’s going to be extremely hard for you because it takes a lot of brain power and discipline.

        • Jeff

          Any chance you’ve been reading the news in the past few days?


    Theres a lot of bitterness in that picture….

  • Hde

    Big deal. A few words in a speech. Obama doesn’t have the nuts to put pressure on China to stop so nothing will change.

    • Meph

      Well, it seems hard to convincingly pressure someone who is holding most of your money…

    • Bill

      Neither did Bush or Clinton – All use China as a rallying point for Voters, but they’ll never do anything until its too late. Same with reforming the tax code, there are so many examples really.

      • Restore Palestine

        Like doing what?

  • Ben

    What about other countries that do the exact same thing like our “alley” Israel?

  • Stephen

    The most powerful defense tool is our oponents imagination, from a large situ to a personal altercation, we need to make lots of fake software available (to be hacked) so they don’t know what is good software (or power network or whatever) they then will have doubt which feeds the imagination… think about it…

    • Bruce

      That’s probably a lot more work than securing the existing software. They would most likely be able to inspect the code for defects a lot more easily than highly complex condition-based errors could be inserted.

  • Ricky

    Feed them starships and mechas.

  • Sugar Daddy

    This is horrible news. Knowing china they will probably help other enemies of the United States initiate their own attacks against us as well

  • Sugar Daddy
  • hibeam

    I guess the Chinese did not take note of the red line in Syria.

  • Lance

    With this and China’s South China Sea grab thing look bad with the PRC. But Obama wants us to have them in our joint military exercises and get money from them go fig.

  • Phono

    It’s a communist leadership in a country with an overwhelming national tradition. They are able to carry out resolute self-centered policies on a hughe scale.

    In my opinion, chinese hacking-activity is driven by masterplan, that is probably not to threaten or harm the U.S., but to establish China at the very top of the world.

  • Tony C.

    Counter strike is the answer that all will understand.

  • Elijah

    Here Am I. You know who I am and what I am trying to do. We, The People of The United States are tired of other countries hacking into us. The web was developed by The United States and released to the world for the benefit of mankind. Now certain countries are using it to rob the citizens of this country. They are using the on-line education programs offered by our universities to do it. Teach the wrong person to fish and he will come back with his terrorist group and take your pole, boat, bait, then run you away from the water.

    • blight_

      “They are using the on-line education programs offered by our universities to do it. ”

      The courses offered online aren’t always to the same quality as a physical class; though there are some courses that are usually online+offline that are packaged as same homework as offline, access to recorded lectures of offline, and proctored testing of offline tests. Unless you’re thinking of something like Coursera…and I doubt that’s the end of the world.

  • Menzie

    Cut them off from our internet. No traffic from China or its “client states” goes through the US. If that is not possible then make it possible. Cut fiber optic lines that are the property of the US that go into China. They may be able to get around it but the speed and quantity of data will be severely limited. Shove dial up down their throat. Then send them the long distance bill.


      ….China already cuts off its population from much of the internet. And besides, Google would be upset.

  • Dfens

    F that 3rd world puke hole and all the people that live there. Quit doing business with them. Stop all communications with them. Quit sending them all our jobs and industries. What the hell kind of country is this that we haven’t already done that?


      Sadly, Obama doesn’t realize that that would work. Cut off everything, and China falls by middle of next week, at best.

    • Restore Palestine

      First off, you have shown yourself to be easily manipulated by propaganda, no matter how inanely manufactured. Second, are we supposed to believe you would actually practice what you preach? Try living without a single made-in-China item for a month. Don’ t use any desktops, laptops, tablets (ipad included), internet related hardware and software that are made in China. Do it. See what happens.

  • Vincent Sr

    C’mon China, get your act together and put those criminals behind bars and stop your cyber attacks on the USA. We saved your behinds from being taken over by Imperial Japan in WWII. Much of your technology came from the USA. I’ll bet most of your computer systems are running Microsoft or UNIX products operating systems, and most of your processors are Intel or AMD. It hasn’t been that long that you forget that Americans fought and died for your country’s freedom…

  • Benny

    The solution is SIMPLE!! No computer with such information needs to be hooked up to the web. PERIOD. Stand alone in house system, nothing gets out. Also, NO, IREPEAT NO computer parts made in China or other foreign country. BUY US AND US ALONE. Are you IT security people STUPID????

  • OD375

    Picture caption, the SecDef says to PLA general Xu Tou Che, “Keep up the cyber attack stuff, it’s working. Your pack of American T-bills will be in your hands by tonight. The Pres give his regards”.

  • Benny

    Come on guys. The solution is SIMPLE. No computer with secure information should be hooked up to the web PERIOD. Everything should be on stand alone in house systems. Also, NO, I REPEAT NO computer parts made in any foreign country. US and US alone parts. Are you It security people STUPID? .

  • U.S.A

    i kind of agree with you on that one benny.