Chinese attacks on government and business networks

From Foreign Policy‘s interview with Richard A. Clarke, “Seven Questions: Richard Clarke on the Next Cyber Pearl Harbor” (April 2008):

I think the Chinese government has been behind many, many attacks—penetrations. “Attacks” sounds like they’re destroying something. They’re penetrations; they’re unauthorized penetrations. And what they are trying to do is espionage. They’re engaged in massive espionage, not only in the U.S. government, in the U.S. private sector as well, but also around the world. The British security service, MI5, sent a note to the 300 largest corporations in England a few months ago, telling them that the Chinese government had probably penetrated their networks.

What’s happening every day is that all of our information is being stolen. So, we pay billions of dollars for research and development, both in the government and the private sector, for engineering, for pharmaceuticals, for bioengineering, genetic stuff—all sorts of proprietary, valuable information that is the result of spending a lot of money on R&D—and all that information gets stolen for one one-thousandth of the cost that it took to develop it.

I’m also concerned about penetrations of U.S. research-and-development firms, everything from pharmaceuticals to genetics to aerospace engineering—all the things we have to sell in our knowledge-based economy. We are a post-industrial, knowledge-based society. That’s what we sell to the world. If other people can steal it readily, then we won’t have much of a margin.