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.
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

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid