China is 10 years behind America digitally and electronically


China is 10 years behind America digitally and electronically

Weak security and intelligence analysis are destabilizing China's cyber power, according to a new study, which predicts that Beijing will be unable to keep pace with the cyber capabilities of the United States for at least a decade.

The study, published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, on Monday, is part of a series of hacking campaigns that have highlighted the growing threat of online espionage by hostile states.

In December, US officials discovered that Russia's foreign intelligence service, SVR, had hijacked SolarWinds to hack government targets in Washington including the Departments of Commerce and the Treasury.

Three months later, Microsoft's email program was hacked by suspected state-backed Chinese hackers to spy on US NGOs and research centers.

IISS researchers ranked countries on a spectrum of cyber capabilities, from the strength of their digital economies and the maturity of their intelligence and security functions to the extent to which cyber facilities are integrated with military operations.

China, like Russia, has significant experience with offensive cyber operations, such as conducting cyber espionage operations, intellectual property theft, and disinformation campaigns against the United States and its allies.

But both countries lagged behind due to the relatively loose cybersecurity of their competitors, according to the study.

As a result, the United States alone is classified as a "tier one" cyber power.

China, Russia, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, and Israel came in second place.

The third place includes India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, North Korea, Iran, and Vietnam.

Space wars

Media reports focus only on the positive aspects of China's digital progress.

Like its aspirations to become a world leader in artificial intelligence.

It may have contributed to the “exaggeration” of its cyber prowess.

By all accounts, the development of cybersecurity skills in China is worse than in many other countries.

According to the report, Beijing's focus on "content security", limiting politically disruptive information on the domestic Internet, may have reduced its focus on monitoring the physical networks that transmit it.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies also noted that China's analysis of electronic intelligence was "less mature" than that of the Five Eyes allies (US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) because it was driven by ideology and "increasingly engaged with the political goals of the Communist Party".

The information age is reshaping global dynamics, so traditionally powerful countries such as India and Japan are starting to lag behind in the third tier of Internet operators, while smaller countries such as Australia and Israel have acquired sophisticated cyber skills that have propelled them to the second tier.

Reckless activities

What sets the United States apart in the first tier, according to the study, is its unparalleled digital industrial base, cryptographic expertise and ability to carry out “complex and surgical” electronic strikes against adversaries.

In contrast to its adversaries such as China and Russia, the United States has also benefited from close alliances with other cyber powers, including its Five Eyes partners.

However, the United States and its allies were increasingly vulnerable to ransomware attacks.

Like the one that attacked both Colonial Pipeline and Ireland's health services last month by Russian criminal hackers, not at the direction of the state but the authorities seem to tolerate their activities.

While it is true that cyber security is less developed in Russia and China, its need for such security is less urgent than in the open Western economies.

The threat is not the same: Western economies are besieged by criminal cyber groups based in Russia that turn a blind eye, tolerate and possibly license their activities and the same is not true on the other side.

While Russia knows that the West will not indiscriminately target critical civilian infrastructure in a destructive manner, Russian agencies have a license to conduct reckless activities.

This, in turn, requires higher levels of cybersecurity in the West.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4.

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