According to a draft of a Congressional U.S.- China Economic and Security Review Commission report, China poses the largest threat to US information systems, with its hackers increasingly targeting U.S military computers and defense contractors.
The risks include attempts to blind or disrupt U.S. intelligence and communications satellites, weapons targeting systems, and navigation computers.
“China’s persistence, combined with notable advancements in exploitation activities over the past year, poses growing challenges to information systems and their users,” the U.S.- China Economic and Security Review Commission said in the draft. “Chinese penetrations of defense systems threaten the U.S. military’s readiness and ability to operate.”
While the attacks are considered basic techniques, the volume of the activity has allowed China to become a threat, according to the report, adding that the intrusions are largely designed to collect information instead of attacking systems.
The report, scheduled for release on Nov. 14, called for Congress to develop ways to punish and penalize companies found to have engaged in industrial espionage.
The commission’s draft report bolsters warnings by U.S. officials that cyberattacks pose growing risks to the military and to critical industries such as electric utilities, pipelines, and telecommunications. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta cited Chinese and Russian capabilities in an Oct. 11 speech, saying cyber threats could become as devastating as the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.