WASHINGTON — Protecting U.S. businesses from the onslaught of cyber attacks emanating from China is a top administration priority, and the Obama administration will take action, according to National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon.
Speaking to the Asia Society in New York on Monday, Donilon made it clear that the U.S. will not allow the continued rise of cyber espionage against companies, and direct attack against critical infrastructure, according to a transcript provided by the organization.
“The United States will do all it must to protect our national networks, critical infrastructure, and our valuable public and private sector property,” Donilon said. “Increasingly, U.S. businesses are speaking out about their serious concerns about sophisticated, targeted theft of confidential business information and proprietary technologies through cyber intrusions emanating from China on an unprecedented scale. The international community cannot afford to tolerate such activity from any country. As the president said in the State of the Union, we will take action to protect our economy against cyber threats.”
Donilon’s comments are unusual as most administration officials have refrained from publicly naming China as a source of many cyber attacks.
Private security groups have been adamant that while China is not the only country from which attacks originate, the nation is the primary place for intellectual property theft, and the source of what have thus far been minor efforts against U.S. critical infrastructure.
Last month, the security firm Mandiant released a report naming China as the source of a prolonged attack effort, describing its research as an example of a common attack signature.
Behind closed doors the increasing frequency and complexity of attacks from China have been the source of growing concern at the Pentagon, and the administration is beginning to draw a line in the sand demonstrating that U.S. patience on the matter has been exhausted.
“Specifically with respect to the issue of cyber-enabled theft, we seek three things from the Chinese side,” Donilon said. “First, we need a recognition of the urgency and scope of this problem and the risk it poses — to international trade, to the reputation of Chinese industry and to our overall relations. Second, Beijing should take serious steps to investigate and put a stop to these activities. Finally, we need China to engage with us in a constructive direct dialogue to establish acceptable norms of behavior in cyberspace.”