- Former White House security expert says all major U.S. companies have been penetrated by Chinese hackers
- ‘Economic war’ being waged as U.S. secrets are stolen
- Cyber war will not have a ‘Pearl Harbour’ – instead U.S. at risk of ‘death by a thousand cuts’
By Rob Waugh
PUBLISHED: 10:05 EST, 28 March 2012 | UPDATED: 10:05 EST, 28 March 2012
The former U.S government security chief whose warnings of a ‘spectacular’ Al Qaeda attack were ignored by the White House in the run up to 9/11 has delivered another stark warning.
Richard Clarke claims that every major company in the U.S. has already been penetrated by Chinese hackers looking to steal military and financial secrets.
‘I’m about to say something that people think is an exaggeration, but I think the evidence is pretty strong. Every major company in the United States has already been penetrated by China,’ Clarke said in an interview in Smithsonian magazine.
Clarke claims that Chinese-made computing equipment used by the U.S. could be ‘contaminated’ with ‘logic bombs’ and ‘trojan horses’ which could allow Chinese hackers a ‘back door’ into the American war machine.
Clarke – now head of a cybersecurity company Good Harbor – also claims that Chinese hackers are waging a piecemeal ‘economic war’ against America by passing secrets to Chinese company.
There’s a big difference between the kind of cyberespionage the United States government does and China,’ says Clarke.
‘The U.S. government doesn’t hack its way into a Chinese computer company like Huawei and provide the secrets of Huawei technology to their American competitor Cisco. We don’t do that.’
Clarke believes that Chinese companies used information from Boeing and Microsoft – and that the nation is at risk from an economic war of attrition.
‘My greatest fear,’ Clarke says, ‘is that, rather than having a cyber-Pearl Harbor event, we will instead have this death of a thousand cuts. Where we lose our competitiveness by having all of our research and development stolen by the Chinese. And we never really see the single event that makes us do something about it.
‘That it’s always just below our pain threshold. That company after company in the United States spends millions, hundreds of millions, in some cases billions of dollars on R&D and that information goes free to China….After a while you can’t compete.’
The move comes in the wake of several high-profile cyber attacks originating in China which targeted U.S and other government officials.
China is widely suspected of being the origin of many hacking attacks on government and commercial websites abroad, but officials have repeatedly dismissed reports that the government or military could be behind such attacks.
Last year, hackers based in Jinan, China targeted personal Gmail and Yahoo accounts of government officials.
The methods used suggested insider knowledge about the offiicals according to many observers.
The Chinese government denied any involvement.
‘Blaming these misdeeds on China is unacceptable,’ said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei after the attacks.
‘Hacking is an international problem and China is also a victim. The claims of so-called support for hacking are completely unfounded.’