China To Use Computer Viruses As Cyberwarfare First Strike

The People's Liberation Army in China is building up its cyberwarfare capabilities according to a report from the Department of Defense. DoD has found that the PLA, the largest standing army in the world, has established information warfare units geared to developing viruses that can attack enemy computer systems and networks. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2000 mandates that the secretary of defense make an annual report to Congress on the current and future military strategy of the People's Republic of China. This year's report noted that China is making a significant push out of the traditional warfare areas (land, air, and sea) to a more "modern battlefield" of space and cyberspace. "The PLA sees [computer network operations] as critical to achieving 'electromagnetic dominance' early in a conflict," said the report, adding that China is focused on developing the ability to disrupt battlefield information systems.

Defense researchers noted that China's focus on preparing for military contingencies in the Taiwan Strait, including the possibility of a U.S. intervention, appears to be an important driver of its modernization efforts. "The pace and scope of China's military transformation has increased in recent years, fueled by continued high rates of investment in its domestic defense and science and technology industries, acquisition of advanced foreign weapons, and far reaching reforms of the armed forces," the report states. The DOD also reported that while China is focused on preparing for potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait, it's also "surveying the strategic landscape beyond Taiwan."

News source: InformationWeek

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