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Capability of the People’s Republic of China to Conduct Cyber Warfare and Computer Network Exploitation

Published December 9, 2009

This report was prepared by the Northrop Grumman Corporation for the U.S. government's U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

The introduction states, "This paper presents a comprehensive open source assessment of China's capability to conduct computer network operations (CNO) both during peacetime and periods of
conflict. The result will hopefully serve as useful reference to policymakers, China specialists, and information operations professionals. The research for this project encompassed five broad categories to show how the People's Republic of China (PRC) is pursuing computer network operations (CNO) and the extent to which it is being implemented by examining:

a) The PLA's strategy for computer network operations at the campaign and strategic level to understand how China is integrating this capability into overall planning efforts and operationalizing it among its field units;

b) Who are the principal institutional and individual "actors" in Chinese CNO and what linkages may exist between the civilian and military operators;

c) Possible targets of Chinese CNO against the US during a conflict to understand how the PLA might attempt to seize information control over the US or similar technologically advanced military during a conflict;

d) The characteristics of ongoing network exploitation activities targeting the U.S. Government and private sector that are frequently attributed to China;

e) A timeline of alleged Chinese intrusions into US government and industry networks to provide broader context for these activities."

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