What are the Chinese up to? Over the
past year, several major American military computer networks have been hacked
into. The unclassified Department of Defense network, NIPRnet, had over 10,000
gigabytes of data was downloaded from it by hackers. The perpetrators of all
this are believed to be Chinese, or gangs of hackers working for the Chinese.
Meanwhile, intelligence officials in the U.S. and Canada have compared notes
and found that they are both being spied on with huge networks of Chinese
What is the plan here? One theory is that the
Chinese are targeting logistics and transportation. A lot of the data taken
covered logistics, from supplier information, to the routes and carriers used
to move the goods. The logistics of war is a very complex process, with
millions of different items being moved. If enough items don't arrive at the
right place, at the right time, very bad things happen. All military equipment
needs spare parts and fuel to keep going. There are thousands of organizations
involved in manufacturing and moving the needed parts. Many of these
organizations depend on computer networks that are known to be vulnerable. The
infrastructure of the areas around the supplier factories or transportation
facilities, is also vulnerable to hacker attacks. American logistical efforts
could be crippled by an "attack of a thousand cuts."
The more this scenario is examined, the more
plausible, and potentially successful, it appears to be. Thousands of attacks
could be made, and even if only a few percent of them succeeded, there would be
hundreds of logistical bottlenecks, where the absence of one component would
snowball into many major items being unavailable.
This sort of thing works both ways, but the Chinese
economy is not wired into the Internet to quite the same degree as in the
United States. Depending on how vulnerable American organizations turned out to
be, the U.S. would probably get hurt worse.