US, China to cooperate more on cyber threat

May 08, 2012 By LOLITA C. BALDOR , Associated Press
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and and China's Minister of National Defense Gen. Liang Guanglie, speak during a news conference at the Pentagon, Monday, May 7, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(AP) -- Asserting that cyberattacks against the U.S. don't come only from China, the U.S. and Chinese defense ministers said they agreed Monday to work together on cyber issues to avoid miscalculations that could lead to future crises.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that since China and the have advanced cyber capabilities, it is important to develop better cooperation.

"It's true, as the general pointed out, that obviously there are other countries, actors, others involved in some of the attacks that both of our countries receive," Panetta told reporters after an afternoon meeting in the marking the first visit by a Chinese defense minister to the U.S. since 2003. "But because the United States and China have developed technological capabilities in this arena it's extremely important that we work together to develop ways to avoid any miscalculation or that could lead to crisis in this area."

Gen. Liang Guanglie, China's minister of national defense, offered a of his country, saying through an interpreter that, "I can hardly agree with the proposition that the cyberattacks directed to the United States are directly coming from China. ... We cannot attribute all of the cyberattacks (against the) United States to China."

Just six months ago, however, senior U.S. for the first time publicly accused China of systematically stealing American high-tech data for its own national economic gain.

It was the most forceful and detailed airing of U.S. allegations against after years of private complaints, and it signaled the opening salvo of a broad diplomatic push to combat cyberattacks that originate in China.

Liang said that he and Panetta talked about ways to strengthen cybersecurity, but they are leaving the details to the experts.

Cybersecurity was just one of the many issues discussed by the two leaders during their meeting, but it is also one of a number of contentious topics that rattle the often rocky relationship between the two nations.

"The U.S. needs to start laying the ground work for better understanding by the Chinese of what we expect from them in cyberspace," said James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies who has met with Chinese officials and scholars for informal discussions. "We want to figure out some way to get some understanding in place before something bad happens."

As an example he said American officials want to know who to talk to when Chinese hackers breach U.S. computer networks. And if there is a cyber incident in China, Lewis said, "we need the Chinese to feel confident that they can call us up and ask, `was it you?', and get a straight answer."

Chinese officials have routinely denied the cyberspying, insisting that their own country also is a victim of such attacks. And they note that the hacking is anonymous and often difficult to track.

U.S. cybersecurity experts acknowledge that attribution can be difficult, and that while they can trace an attack to China, it is often difficult to track directly to the Chinese government. Last December's report by U.S. intelligence agencies said America must openly confront China and Russia in a broad diplomatic push to combat cyberattacks that are on the rise and represent a "persistent threat to U.S. economic security."

And, separately, several cybersecurity analysts have concluded that as few as 12 different Chinese groups, largely backed or directed by the government there, commit the bulk of the cyberattacks that aim to steal critical data from U.S. companies and government agencies. Officials estimate that the stealthy attacks have stolen billions of dollars in intellectual property and data.

Because people and businesses in both and American have been victims of cyberattacks, officials have been talking more about building a better relationship so that they can work together.

Law enforcement is one area of cybersecurity where the two nations have begun to build partnerships, but so far it has been extremely limited. Lewis said that in 2011, U.S. authorities requested assistance from the Chinese 11 times, and in seven of the cases received no information. But, he said the Chinese cooperated with U.S. law enforcement in a high profile financial fraud case late last year.

Explore further: Erdogan passes law tightening Turkey's grip on Internet

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

US report blasts China, Russia for cybercrime

Nov 03, 2011

(AP) -- Cyberattacks by Chinese and Russian intelligence services, as well corporate hackers in those countries, have swallowed up large amounts of high-tech American research and development data, and that stolen information ...

A few hacker teams do most China-based data theft

Dec 12, 2011

As few as 12 different Chinese groups, largely backed or directed by the government there, commit the bulk of the China-based cyberattacks stealing critical data from U.S. companies and government agencies, according to U.S. ...

Cyber weaknesses should deter US from waging war

Nov 08, 2011

(AP) -- America's critical computer networks are so vulnerable to attack that it should deter U.S. leaders from going to war with other nations, a former top U.S. cybersecurity official said Monday.

China hit by 500,000 cyberattacks in 2010

Aug 09, 2011

China said Tuesday it was hit by nearly 500,000 cyberattacks last year, about half of which originated from foreign countries including the United States and India.

Japan govt websites hit by cyberattacks: report

Sep 19, 2011

Websites of some Japanese government agencies were hit by cyberattacks over the weekend, temporarily blocking access to them, Kyodo news agency reported Monday, citing national police.

Recommended for you

US threatened Yahoo with huge fine over surveillance

Sep 11, 2014

US authorities threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day if it failed to comply with a secret surveillance program requiring it to hand over user data in the name of national security, court documents showed ...

User comments : 0