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U.S. must crack down on China's cyber threats

Kenneth Corbin | May 15, 2014
Former National Security Advisor Tom Donilon says that persistent cyber intrusions into corporate networks emanating from China are sapping economic relations with the United States.

China a Clear and Present Cyber-Danger
Donilon's focus on China recalls a speech he gave last March calling on that nation's government to crack down on "cyber intrusions emanating from China on an unprecedented scale." That address came shortly after the release of a high-profile report from the security firm Mandiant, which detailed a widespread hacking operation undertaken by China's army alleged to have compromised 141 companies dating to 2006.

Donilon's renewed call for tougher prohibitions on hacking in China comes as the Obama administration has signaled its intentions to "pivot" toward Asia, reorienting economic, diplomatic and other policy areas toward the East. The United States is currently in advanced negotiations on expanding the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a major trade agreement that would include a dozen nations — though, notably, not China, at least for now — and bring its provisions to bear on roughly 40 percent of global trade.

It is Donilon's hope that U.S. officials will elevate cybersecurity as a priority in trade talks and their broader diplomatic efforts. At the same time, he is realistic that as important as information sharing and stronger international partnerships may be, there is no combination of policy remedies that will resolve the cybersecurity challenge.

"I think we need to have much more private-public cooperation, and we need to have an international effort to try to set some sort of norms here," Donilon said. "But at the end of the day, we're going to have adversaries that are going to have increasingly sophisticated approaches to attacking our systems. I don't think there's any doubt about it."


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