Secret arms of the Chinese military have been tasked with stealing the secrets of American businesses using a variety of hacking methods, some off the shelf and some sophisticated. Evidence collected by the office of the U.S. Trade Representative suggests that the cost of all that theft could be between $225 billion and $600 billion. Bill Gertz reports at The Washington Times:
Beginning in the 1990s, the Chinese used large-scale cyberattacks in support of a larger industrial policy of building up the country’s science and technology business and military sector. 3PLA is China’s most aggressive technology collector by far, with at least 19 confirmed and nine possible cyber units under its command. The CIA identified Gen. Liu in a 2014 report as an encryption specialist and director of the Technical Reconnaissance Bureau, another term for 3PLA.
The general appeared in a 2013 PLA propaganda video called “Silent Contest,” which described the United States as the main target of Chinese cyberattacks, based on the country being the birthplace of the internet and having the ability to control its core resources.
A U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) report on Chinese technology theft provided some of the first clear evidence of the massive damage caused by cyber-economic spying attacks. Chinese unfair trade practices and Beijing’s intellectual property theft, according to the report, cost Americans a staggering $225 billion to $600 billion annually in lost information.
One of the businesses attacked was Boeing, where the Chinese stole the plans for America’s C-17 airplane. A few years later, presumably after studying the Boeing plans, China touted its own brand new plane.
If you own a business with any sort of proprietary data, you must remain vigilant. Most of the Chinese attacks were perpetuated via falsified emails that purported to be from someone the recipient knew but instead contained links to malicious software. Similar attacks hit normal Americans every day. Always be vigilant online.