A new report by the National Intelligence Estimate confirms that China is America’s biggest cyber threat.
The report is classified, but people with knowledge of the findings spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity.
“The United States is the target of a massive, sustained cyber-espionage campaign that is threatening the country’s economic competitiveness,” according to the article. “The report, which represents the consensus view of the U.S. intelligence community, describes a wide range of sectors that have been the focus of hacking over the past five years, including energy, finance, information technology, aerospace and automotive.”
But other industries have been targeted as of late, including the media and the U.S. Federal Government.
In recent weeks, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg disclosed cyber attacks traced back to China. Twitter was also hacked, but the origins of that attack remain unknown. But perhaps the most disturbing case of cyber-espionage involves the Federal Reserve and Department of Energy.
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These types of attacks threaten the economic competitiveness of America. While the intelligence report does not put a dollar figure on the financial impact of these cyber attacks, some experts believe it is upwards of $10 billion, according to WaPo.
For decades, China has been trying to speed up its technical prowess by both stealing technology and data from America and buying up U.S. companies. A recent Wall Street Journal article details how China has been trying to acquire American assets at a faster and faster clip.
While many of the bigger deals pursued by China have been rejected by the U.S. government due to security concerns, many of the smaller acquisitions have managed to be approved.
“Last year, Chinese buyers agreed to spend more than $10 billion in 46 deals to acquire U.S. companies or stakes in U.S. firms, according to Dealogic,” the WSJ reports. “The volume was higher than the Chinese total from 2009 through 2011 combined.”
The sale of battery maker A123 in January to China’s largest automotive components manufacturer for roughly $250 million is the latest deal to get approved by the U.S. government. A123 makes batteries for commercial electric cars, but it also develops technology used by the military. The acquisition of a company with military ties was worrisome; thus the sale to the Chinese firm only involved A123′s commercial division. But many experts assert that there is much overlap between the technologies used for commercial and military purposes.