The aggressiveness of China and Russia in hacking into U.S. weapons systems is “breathtaking,” Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan said on Tuesday.
“The viciousness and just the value of the attacks — not just by the Chinese, but the Russians and others — in trying to get the blueprints of our most sensitive material is just breathtaking,” Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told Wolf Blitzer on CNN. “And they’re getting better.
“It’s just not the government networks,” Rogers added. “There’s also the supply chain. Anybody that’s connected to any of our defense industry is really vulnerable to this kind of attack.”
The Washington Post reported
on Monday that Chinese hackers have compromised many of the designs of the nation’s most sensitive advanced weapons systems.
More than two dozen major weapons systems have had their designs breached by the Chinese, according to a report prepared for the Pentagon by the Defense Science Board, a senior advisory group of government and civilian experts.
The blueprints involved programs critical to U.S. missile defenses and combat aircraft and ships, the Post reports.
“This is tremendously serious — and this is something the intelligence community has been trying to get ahead of for a while,” he said.
Rogers confirmed that the Chinese hacked into American weapons systems, though he could not yet verify what had been stolen.
“They have been aggressively pursuing this,” he said. “Whatever had been stolen, we have to go back and redesign it. It costs more money — billions and billions of dollars.
“When they steal it, they leap ahead. That means we have to invest more and change this technology. It is a serious problem.”
Citing the 2007 cyberattacks that crippled government and corporate sites in Estonia by Russia, Rogers noted how technology assaults have become “a part of nation-state military planning. They will launch an aggressive cyberattack when they’re in conflict.”
But there is a broader threat to the United States, Rogers said.
“What should worry people is that, yes, the Chinese have the capability, yes, the Russians have the capability, but — now —who’s creeping up is Iran and North Korea,” he told CNN. “They’re gaining in their capabilities, and they’re not rational actors.
“China isn’t going to necessarily shut down our electric grid unless we’re in conflict. You can’t say that about Iran or North Korea.
“What we’ve seen is that the Iranians have been probing our financial institutions. They have been probing certain electric grids.
“That’s a real problem for us, because, again, there’s a cyberwar going on — most Americans aren’t aware of it — and it’s one that we’re not well prepared to handle from the private-sector’s perspective.”
Turning to the continued bloodshed in Syria, Rogers said it was imperative that the United States become involved on some level.
“It’s destabilizing the region,” he said. “This is not just about getting involved in a conflict. Lebanon is starting to deteriorate. The pressure of refugees — the humanitarian crisis in Turkey, on Jordan — the pressure it’s putting on Israel when you have every flavor of terrorist operating in Syria.
“The problem here is if it deteriorates — if it falls apart — if there’s nothing left, you have all those terrorist groups who want to get ahold of chemical weapons and very sophisticated conventional weapons,” Rogers added. “This is turning into a disaster beyond its borders — and we need to take some serious steps in the region.”
He supports a no-fly zone for Syria, but one that relies on members of the Arab League to provide military support “that would not allow helicopters and airplanes to cause havoc there.”
Rogers said the Obama administration’s objections to arming the rebels battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad because the weapons could end up with Islamic militant groups is fallacious since “those groups are being armed already.”
“The Arab League folks have been in there for a year providing weapons — and the one thing that’s been missing is U.S. leadership to make sure that those weapons get into the right hands.
“This is not about troops on the ground,” Rogers told CNN. “This is not about engaging our Air Force.”
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