• NSA Director Tells China It Is ‘As Vulnerable As Any Other’ In Cyberspace

    The leader of one of America’s spy agencies is sending some less than subtle reminders to China about the consequences of digital attacks against the U.S.

    The director of the National Security Agency Adm. Mike Rogers told attendees at a non-profit forum Chinese actions in the international cyber environment could yield blowback from those the Chinese target, Defense News reported Nov. 21.

    Rogers, who is also head of U.S. Cyber Command, addressed the Halifax International Security Forum, saying to “my Chinese counterparts, I would remind them, increasingly you are as vulnerable as any other major industrialized nation state. The idea that you can somehow exist outside the broader global cyber challenges I don’t think is workable.”

    The comments are in reference to the practice of the Chinese government or military gathering intelligence on corporate entities and sharing those insights with Chinese companies to obtain an economic advantage. This approach to cyber intelligence is one the U.S. categorically rejects.

    “If we cannot address this, then our ability to achieve the relationship that we both believe that we want is going to be questionable,” he said.

    The U.S. and China are currently in the midst of navigating the nuances of their cyber relationship. (RELATED: The U.S. Must Call Out China For Its Aggression)

    President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a cybersecurity accord Sept. 25. The pact is supposed to end the theft of intellectual property and corporation trade secrets stolen ostensibly to provide a commercial advantage over international competitors.

    But recent reports have been mixed regarding whether or not China is upholding its end of the deal.

    During U.S.-Chinese trade talks Nov. 23, Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker told Reuters China is prepared to offer legal remedies to American corporations that suffered a theft of their trade secrets.

    “China clarified its intent to make preliminary injunctions and meaningful remedies and other judicial protections,” Pritzker said. “More easily accessible to those who are confronting trade secret theft …It’s a big deal.”

    And a delegation of House Democrats, led by Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, said after a recent trip to China and Tibet Nov. 18, that China confirmed to the delegation it is dedicated to ending corporate cyber attacks. (RELATED: Dems Say China Ready To Stop Corporate Espionage, Others Say Dems Are Naive)

    Yet, a congressional commission report released Nov. 18 on the economic and security relationship between the United States and China seems to tell a different story. The report from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission concludes that a number of American pharmaceutical and manufacturing corporations were the recipients of Chinese cyber breaches. The report also notes the U.S. has an “inadequate” and “passive” cyber strategy and that in order for the U.S. to deter the overwhelming amount of Chinese cyber attacks, Congress should consider a digital retaliation strategy. (RELATED: Congressional Commission Recommends Cyber Retaliation On China)

    At the forum, Rogers said digital retaliation—or hacking back—is one option being considered for the United States and other nation states that find themselves on the receiving end of Chinese cyber attacks, but ideally the goal will be to find an amicable solution.

    “None of us wants behavior on either side that ends up accelerating or precipitating a crisis,” he said.

    “We want a constructive relationship with China,” Rogers claimed. “It is in the best interest of the Chinese. It is in the best interest of the United States. And I would argue its in the best interest of the region and the globe.”

    Follow Steve Ambrose on Twitter

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