News / USA

Top US Officer Rejects Comparison of US, Chinese Cyber Snooping

U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey testifies at a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington Jun. 11, 2013.
U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey testifies at a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington Jun. 11, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— The top U.S. military officer on Thursday dismissed comparisons of Chinese and American snooping in cyber space, saying all countries gathered intelligence on their potential adversaries but Beijing's problematic “niche” was intellectual property theft.
 
Army General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also said the U.S. government was close to completing an update of its rules of engagement in cyber space and that Americans needed to understand a cyber-attack could trigger a real-world military response.
 
“All nations on the face of the planet always conduct intelligence operations in all domains,” Dempsey told an audience at the Brookings Institution think-tank after he was asked about intelligence leaks showing the National Security Agency targeted Chinese institutions for cyber spying.
 
He rejected suggestions that the leaks by NSA contractor Edward Snowden demonstrated hypocrisy on the part of the United States, which has been sharply critical of Chinese hacking of U.S. government and commercial computer networks.
 
“China's particular niche in cyber has been theft and intellectual property,” Dempsey said. “I've had some conversations about that with them. Their view is that there are no rules of the road in cyber, there's nothing, there's no laws that they are breaking, there's no standards of behavior.”
 
That disagreement is a point of friction in ties between the two countries and was discussed earlier this month by Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping at a summit in California.
 
Dempsey said the two countries would have their first formal discussions next week to try to establish rules for conduct in cyber space “so we don't have these friction points.”
 
Strong Accusations
 
The United States has become increasingly vocal about Chinese hacking, which officials say has cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars in lost intellectual property and is helping U.S. adversaries speed development of high-tech weapons systems.
 
The Pentagon's annual report on China in April for the first time directly accused the Beijing government and military of being behind the hacking.
 
Dempsey, in his remarks on cyber security at Brookings, said the government could not completely prevent insiders like Snowden from disclosing secrets if they were willing to break the law, but he said it could take steps to mitigate the risk.
 
He said a shift to so-called “cloud” or “thin client” computing could boost security and reduce the number of systems administrators needing with broad access. Deeper background checks and greater oversight also could be imposed, he said.
 
Snowden was a systems administrator working for Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii on an NSA contract when he disclosed details of secret U.S. surveillance programs.
 
“I think systems administrators is the right place to begin to clean this up ... because they have such ubiquitous access, and that's how he ended up doing what he did,” Dempsey said.
 
Dempsey said the U.S. government is close to completing an update of its rules of engagement for dealing with a cyber-attack, describing them as a “playbook” that outlines the roles and responsibilities of the different agencies involved.
 
He cautioned against assuming a cyber-attack that caused significant damage would automatically be met with a cyber-response of similar scope and destructiveness.
 
“I think what the president ... would insist upon, actually, is that he have the options and the freedom of movement to decide what kind of response we would employ,” Dempsey said.
 
“That's why I say I don't want to have necessarily a narrow conversation about what constitutes war in cyber, because the response could actually be in one of the other traditional domains” of air, sea, space or land, he said.

You May Like

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

US congressional delegation initiates $84 million Agent Orange cleanup project More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid