China to Revamp its Cybersecurity Strategy

China People’s Liberation Army have announced measures to tighten security on its cyberspace and enhance the capacity of Local software engineers to develop more secure software, according to Chines State media. Beijing is concerned that the cyberspace is largely dominated by western powers with China doing little to promote its development. The Communist government has promised to invest more resources in reinforcing the cyber security of the software used in the country

“Information security must be considered an underlying project in military battle preparedness,” said the People’s Liberation Army Daily. “We will strongly advance the domestic and independent building of programs, and strengthen the foundations of our information security.” It not surprising that one of the world’s largest army want to “shore up major technological weakness” in its cyberspace, especially after revelations that foreign companies in the Chinese market could be helping their governments to spy on Chinese internet users.

“Information security is a primary goal for the Government which intend to sustain the development of autochthonous software that makes independent the country from Western companies that could support cyber strategies of their government,” reported Reuters. China is more concerned about cyber espionage by US, following recently leaked document by Edward Snowden, revealing a “treasure map program” run by FiveEyes Agencies to control global network. The clandestine program is used to map all internet using devices anywhere around the globe.

Snowden also revealed cooperation between NSA and America’s top tech companies in creating back door holes in their services, allowing the spymaster to eavesdrop on users. Market analysts have reported skepticism in Chinese market, with sales of technological products from the west decreasing.

Accusations of espionage between China and US have been going on for years, a factor that explains the sour relationship between the two countries.

Earlier this year, China accused US of hacking into Huawei Servers, spying on employee’s communications and making implants on equipment from the Chinese Manufacturer. In a statement to Reuters, Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng stated that reports of the National Security Agency hacking into Huawei servers exposed “the United States’ hypocrisy and despotic rule. NSA denied the accusations.

In another “espionage battle”, Chinese government deliberately delayed the launching of IPhone 6 in the Chinese market, citing unfulfilled regulatory requirements. CCTT, a stated owned television network accused NSA of using the iPhones to spy on China.

According to market analysts, China was retaliating against an earlier decision by Washington to ban Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE from selling their products in US market due to security concerns. The frosty relationship have between Beijing and Washington have exacerbated after US authorities indicted five  PLA military officers in May for hacking into computers of American companies. The FBI charged the five militants with a total of 31 cyber frauds including stealing trade secrets and intellectual property.

“From at least in or about 2006 up to and including at least in our about April 2014, members of the People’s Liberation Army (“PLA”), the military of the People’s Republic of China (“China”), conspired together and with each other to hack into the computers of commercial entities in the Western District of Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the United States,” read the charge sheet.

US authorities suspected the five hackers were working for the Chinese government Army in unit codenamed 61398 based in Shanghai. They allegedly stole sensitive data on a nuclear plant design and cost and pricing data for a solar panel company.

“When a foreign nation uses military or intelligence resources and tools against an American executive or corporation to obtain trade secrets or sensitive business information for the benefit of its state-owned companies, we must say, ‘Enough is enough,’” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder declared at a news conference. FBI director James Comey, recently claimed china topped the list of foreign groups targeting the United States with cyber-attacks. Cyber espionage enabled Chinese companies to steal and copy innovation from US, said Comey.

“Well, I don’t want to give you a complete list,” Comey recently said in his interview with CBS News. “But I can tell you the top of the list is the Chinese. As we have demonstrated with the charges brought earlier this year against five members of the People’s Liberation Army. They are extremely aggressive and widespread in their efforts to break into American systems to steal information that would benefit their industry.”

“There are two kinds of big companies in the United States,” Comey said. “There are those who’ve been hacked by the Chinese, and those who don’t know they’ve been hacked by the Chinese.” Annual losses from cyber-attacks launched from China amounted to billions, said Comey.

Looking at the accusations traded against each other, it is difficult to tell who between US and China is the victim of cyber espionage. However, security experts agree that after many years of burying their head in the sand, the two countries have realized that state-backed cyber criminals cause more harm than good.

Lawrence Mwangi Lawrence is a technology and business reporter. He has freelanced for a number of tech sites and magazines. He is a web-enthusiast, with a special interest in Online security, Entrepreneurship and Innovation. When not writing about tech he can be found in a Tennis court or on a chess board.
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