The Financial Times has an interesting story today claiming that attackers affiliated with the Chines army have compromised some unknown number of machines at the Pentagon recently. The story is a little vague on the details, but it seems that some people using IP addresses belonging to the People’s Liberation Army were able to penetrate a portion of the Pentagon’s network to such an extent that part of it was shut down earlier this summer.
The Pentagon acknowledged shutting down part of a computer system serving the office of Robert Gates, defence secretary, but declined to say who it believed was behind the attack.
Current and former officials have told the Financial Times an internal investigation has revealed that the incursion came from the People’s Liberation Army.
One senior US official said the Pentagon had pinpointed the exact origins of the attack. Another person familiar with the event said there was a “very high level of confidence…trending towards total certainty” that the PLA was responsible. The defence ministry in Beijing declined to comment on Monday.
Undoubtedly, this will stir up all of the hysterical cyberwar rhetoric with ominous predictions from talking heads about the End of the Internet As We Know It. The truth of the matter is probably far less sinister than some people would have you believe. In today’s environment, it’s safe to say that virtually every major nation is conducting various scanning, reconnaissance and surveillance operations against the networks of its enemies–and perhaps some of its allies. The United States is likely right at the top of the list for the Chinese government, and it’s naive to think that the U.S. government isn’t actively looking for ways into China’s networks, as well.