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CYBER WARFARE UPDATE

05 Dec 10. The Chinese hacking attack on Google disclosed early this year was overseen at the highest levels of that country’s ruling Communist party, according to accounts in US diplomatic cables made public over the weekend. In one cable sent from the embassy in Beijing this January, State officials said a “well-placed contact” reported that the operation aimed at stealing Google’s source code was “directed at the Politburo Standing Committee level”, referring to the small group that wields ultimate power in China. That document, classified as secret, is among a handful on Chinese hacking strategy published Saturday by the site WikiLeaks and by newspapers given an advance look at a cache of a quarter-million cables being gradually posted online. The new cables connect the dots and show that US diplomats agreed with independent researchers who have maintained that the Chinese military works closely with “patriotic hackers” and sees cyber espionage as one of several tools for transferring intellectual property from Western companies to homegrown businesses and otherwise favouring Chinese firms. The WikiLeaks release come at a time when the US is looking to China to help address concerns about North Korea’s nuclear programme and military activities, and when tensions remain high over Beijing’s currency policy. Mindful of such priorities, the Obama administration has consistently sought to prevent the China-Google dispute from becoming a direct clash between Washington and Beijing. A State Dept. spokesman maintained that stance late Saturday. “Our relationship is important yet complex,” he said. “There is a wide range of overlapping interests, providing many areas for co-operation. North Korea is a good example. Where we have differences, including over fundamental human rights, we will manage them.” The cables show an escalating series of disputes between the company and Chinese officials that led up to the cyber-attack on Google, which prompted the top search engine to go public and withdraw its search offering from the mainland. Many of the dispatches suggest that information control was at the root of the dispute. One reports that during the 2007 Communist party Congress there was extensive “hijacking” of users who tried to use Google and were redirected to Baidu, the state-owned search engine. Another reports a complaint that the company’s service had been blocked by the Chinese government periodically over three years up to 2009. At one point a Politburo member was concerned that Chinese-language searches could be performed at Google’s main site, Google.com, and that a search on his own name returned critical information, one contact told the embassy. The official, whose name was redacted from the published cable, asked three ministries to write a report on Google. The New York Times, one of the media organisations with advance access to the cables, named the politburo member as Li Changchun, the country’s top propaganda official.
The newspaper cited a cable quoting a well-connected Chinese national as saying Mr Li himself directed the attack. But it added that when contacted directly the source in question did not uphold this version of events, saying that Mr Li oversaw the campaign against Google’s Chinese operations, as opposed to the hacking attack. Chinese leaders also directed that three major mobile telecommunications carriers not do business with Google, an embassy contact asserted. That led one to back out of an existing contract and dealt a major blow to Google’s ambitions in the country, which hinged on wireless devices, the contact said. The author of the cable summarising the discussion said that “claims of government-forced retribution” describing that interview “are cause for serious concern” and could merit response by a senior US official. (Source: FT.com)

01 Dec 10. A Raytheon Company system has been authorized to operate at the Top Secret/SCI and Below Interoperability (TSABI) level. Known as Secure

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