Wednesday, January 13, 2010

THE ART OF (Electronic) WARfare

Zhi xinxi quan (制信息) – establishing information dominance.
For the past 10 years the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has moved aggressively in the arena of high-tech electronic warfare. According to a report called “Capability of the People’s Republic of China to Conduct Cyber Warfare and Computer Network Exploitation” prepared for by U.S. defense firm Northrup Grumman and the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, China is working to achieve information dominance in the “new strategic high ground.” The report states that China’s new doctrinal focus is to “establish control of an adversary’s information flow and maintain dominance in the battlespace.
I learned a lot about space warfare and the United States vulnerability to attack when working for Dawn Satellite. We sold satellite equipment to military and government institutions as well as other commercial agencies. The United States is so dependent on space and the satellites that provide our information that any successful attack would shock and blind us into a stupor. According to the Report of the Commission to Assess Unites States National Security Space Management and Organization, "the U.S. is more dependent on space than any other nation." This whilst China's capabilities have advanced exponentially since the late 1990's.
Much of our military machinery is dependent on the Department of Defense controlled Global Positioning System (GPS) which could be knocked out and affect everything from Wall Street and ATM machines to our high-tech air-defense systems.
Increasingly, Chinese military strategists have come to view information dominance as the precursor for overall success in a conflict. Accordingly the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is preparing to establish information dominance and control all adversary’s information flow which is considered a fundamental prerequisite for seizing naval and air superiority during a time of war. This mirrors the United States philosophy stated in the Joint Vision 2010 that states “information dominance” is the key to any military victory. U.S. Space Command (now US Stratcom) documents expound upon the United States desire to control and own space through space superiority. The U.S. does not want to participate in any arms control covering space – or reduction of space weaponization. In effect we are elevating outer space as the newest arena for military confrontation and setting the table for a new arms race of astronomical proportions.
If the U.S. satellite constellations in the middle Earth orbits (MEO) altitudes could be rendered unavailable by the Chinese we would effectively be neutered. To be sure, we are developing counter measures including the Rapid Attack Identification Detection Reporting System (Raidrs) Block 20 direct-ascent anti-satellite weapon. Whether jamming or disabling a number of GPS satellites, the U.S. dependence on technology could be its Achilles heel. China reportedly assisted in the development of the European Union’s Galileo satellite navigation system, a 30-satellite system alternate to the U.S. GPS system. Since the Galileo system is up and running the U.S. effectively loses a valuable strategic dominant high ground it alone has owned for over three decades. The U.S. pushed hard to see that China did not have access to the Galileo system. The Chinese Beidou Navigation System (BNS), also known as Compass, is scheduled to have all 35 satellites operational by 2015. If the Chinese Navigation system isn’t up and running yet – how do they guide their powerful Dong Feng 21 missles? The Chinese special "Kill Weapon" is designed to destroy U.S. aircraft carriers at a distance up to 2000km in less than 12 minutes. According to the United States Naval Institute (USNI), “China is relying on a complex guidance system, low radar signature and maneuverability that makes its [Dong Feng Missile] flight path unpredictable.” USNI states, “Supporting the missile is a network of satellites, radar and unmanned aerial vehicles that can locate U.S. ships and then guide the weapon, enabling it to hit moving targets.”
The U.S. Strategic Commandand Air Force Space Command just announced on 7 January 2010, the existing GPS constellation system will be enhanced with new GPS satellites to be placed in orbit and allow a reshuffling of the deck so there will be better worldwide coverage - including blind-spots in Afghanistan. This redundancy policy should bode well in the event of a Chinese attack on the existing system. According to USSTRATCOM, "the number of GPS satellites in view from any point on earth will increase, potentially increasing accuracy of GPS receivers."

China’s is actively researching and testing new technologies to thwart satellite transmissions including: jamming, use ground-based laser Dazzlers, launch an anti-satellite weapon (ASAT), use electromagnetic pulse (EMP) bursts, piggy-back sattelites, micro satellites, or spoofing (sending fake signals that appear authentic) is its ability to infiltrate and disrupt U.S. computer networks.

Which leads us to Google andthe tip of the iceburg. According to David Drummond, the company's chief legal representative, "In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google." Google went on to state that at least 20 other large companies were similary targeted. No direct accusation was made that attributed the theivery to the Chinese government, but if you read between the lines it is fairly evident Google thinks so since the targeted gmail accounts were tied to Chinese dissidents. New York Times interviewed Wengi Gao, the Chinese Consulate spokesman in New York who stated,"The Chinese government is opposed to and strictly forbids any cybercrime." Google has a little over 20 percent of the Chinese market share, so pulling out completely is saying a lot about the gravity of this incident.
GhostNet, a cyber-espionage network, hacked into government, corporate and private computers in 103 countries. According to Nart Villeneuve's "Tracking GhostNet: Investigating a Cyber Espionage Network" report, "Up to 30% of the infected hosts are considered high-value targets and include computers located at ministries of foreign affairs, embassies, international organizations, news media, and NGOs." Of key importance to U.S. intelligence is whether or not Chinese "black hat" programmers may be supplying or actively working for the Chinese government - giving them zero day exploit capabilities. Although the GhostNet report did not accuse the Chinese government of spying, the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory researches did in their Technical Report #746, "The snooping dragon: social-malware surveillance of the Tibetan movement." They state in their conclusion, "In this note we described how agents of the Chinese government compromised the computing infrastructure of the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama."
The Capability of the People's Republic of China to Conduct Cyber Warfare and Computer Network Exploitation report mentioned earlier states the Chinese strategy is characterized by the combined employment of network warfare tools and electronic warfare weapons against an adversary’s information systems in the early phases of a conflict. A one-two punch.

What we are seeing is the advent of a new spy regime digging in the trenches for a possible Cyber War. Strategically placed "bombs" are scattered in "blind spots" in key institutions and government agencies that PLA forces could exploit at predetermined times or as the tactical situation warranted.
According to the seminal "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu section 13 on the use of spies, there are five classes. The fifth class is surviving spies, "who bring back news from the enemy's camp." It is the surviving spy's information that can be used on appointed occasions. Finding the weakness of the enemy and exploiting it at the most convenient time. They say that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will leap out right away to escape the danger. But, if you put a frog in a kettle that is filled with water that is cool and pleasant, and then you gradually heat the kettle until it starts boiling, the frog will not become aware of the threat until its too late. Things are heating up. And the way things are going, I'm more worried about China then the melting of the polar ice cap.