China has been the aim of suspicion relating to high-profile cyberattacks and state-sponsored campaigns for a long time. The nation has continually denied that the groups of military hackers exist who were believed to direct these attacks. However, this time, China has officially imparted the existence of military cyber warfare units — in fact, the state sponsors a series of them who specialize in different areas.
The disclosures of China’s digital war tactics are presented in the latest edition of publication The Science of Military Strategy, which is generated by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) once in a blue moon. Joe McReynolds, a researcher of China’s network warfare and capabilities for the US Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis, told The Daily Beast
“this is the first time we’ve seen an explicit acknowledgement of the existence of China’s secretive cyber warfare forces from the Chinese side.”
While addressing to the publication, McReynolds said the unmasking is the first time cyber warfare capabilities have been admitted to on both the military and civilian-government sides.
Deniability, naturally, has now been lost — and whether China’s denial was ever believed in the first place is now a moot point. McReynolds commented:
“It means that the Chinese have discarded their fig leaf of quasi-plausible deniability. As recently as 2013, official PLA publications have issued blanket denials such as, ‘The Chinese military has never supported any hacker attack or hacking activities.’ They can’t make that claim anymore.”
McReynolds has affirmed that China’s digital military strategy has been apportioned into three separate sections. One unit is known as “specialized military network warfare forces,” which focuses on conducting network cyber attacks and defense. Second unit consists of civilian teams which have been given the authority by the Chinese military for running “network warfare operations.” Lastly, third one acts as an umbrella for “external entities” which can be organized and assembled for network warfare operations, but act outside of government departments.
According to the statement of Chinese military each unit targets US companies for the theft of valuable data affiliated to business and trade. As a consequence, it will uplift Chinese firms in the global economy.