China Hacks U.S. Defense Department

Dean Cheng /



The Defense Science Board (DSB) just released a report indicating that Chinese hackers have compromised the designs of perhaps two dozen of America’s top defense programs.

The sheer breadth of China’s cyber espionage, as reflected in the types of programs, is breathtaking, ranging from missile defense systems (AEGIS, Patriot PAC-3, Terminal High Altitude Aerial Defense [THAAD]) to helicopters (Blackhawk and MV-22 Osprey) to warships (the Littoral Combat Ship) to fighter aircraft (the F-35 and the F/A-18 Hornet) and drones (Global Hawk).

The DSB report follows on the heels of the Mandiant report, which identified a unit of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as one of the “advanced persistent threats” engaged in cyber espionage, and the Verizon RISK report, which noted that China is the leading source of state-sponsored cyber espionage. Taken together, these three reports, as well as a host of others, indicate that Chinese cyber espionage is part of a systematic effort, undertaken by elements of the government and the armed forces, aimed at a sweeping array of targets, both military and civilian, government and commercial.

Yet, far from holding the People’s Republic of China (PRC) responsible for its actions, the Obama Administration is instead seemingly intent upon rewarding Beijing for its actions. Even as the DSB was issuing its report, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon was in Beijing, calling for deeper military-to-military ties. This follows Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey’s visit to Beijing, where he invited China to work with the U.S. on cybersecurity—as though China was but another innocent victim of cybercrime, rather than a leading perpetrator.

Earlier, the Administration had invited Beijing to participate in the 2014 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises, which includes not only the United States, but key allies such as Japan and Australia. Is it any wonder that the Chinese jumped at this invitation to an intelligence buffet, and accepted with alacrity?

If the Administration thinks that by constantly imploring Beijing, China will change its behavior, it is being incredibly optimistic. Of course, there’s another word for doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.