China and US held exercises to head off escalated hostilities after accusations of data breaches
On April 16, 2012 by Jiten Karia
Thinktanks from the US and China have helped conduct cyber war games between the two nations in an effort to prevent an escalation of online attacks, the Guardian has revealed.
Officials met for exercises in Beijing last June and in Washington last December, with another round of war games planned for May.
On the precipice of (cyber) war
Organised by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, the war games have be seen as a way to pacify two sides pitted against each other in cyber warfare.
China and the US have both alluded to being victims of one another. A hack of two US satellites in 2007 and 2008 was implicitly blamed on Chinese military, though this was swiftly denied.
Additionally, a report delivered earlier this year to the US House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, claimed that Chinese IP addresses were among those responsible for IT breaches in 2010/11. While it did not specify governmental involvement, the US' accusations have routinely picked out China, as well as Russia, as sources of attacks.
Conversely, China Daily recently claimed that the nation was the 'world's biggest' victim of cyber attacks. Its report claimed that over 47,000 overseas IP addresses were involved in attacks affected 8.9 million computers, with a large number coming from Japan and the US.
As neither side can admit state-authorised attacks, accusations and denials have persisted after every notable data theft, increasing tension between the US and China each time. The cyber war games have therefore presented themselves as a way to address a barely-contained hostility.
In the two previous meetings officials and members of intelligence agencies addressed hypothetical scenarios. The first asked how both sides would address an attack from a sophisticated virus such as Stuxnet. The second asked what reaction would be expected if one side knew the other had conducted an attack.
"The two war games have been quite amazing," said Jim Lewis, a senior fellow and director at CSIS, speaking to the Guardian. "The first one went well, the second one not so well.
"The Chinese are very astute. They send knowledgeable people. We want to find ways to change their behaviour ... [but] they can justify what they are doing. Their attitude is, they have experienced imperialism and they had a century of humiliation.
"The Chinese have a deep distrust of the US. They are concerned about US military capabilities. They tend to think we have a grand strategy to preserve US hegemony and they see a direct challenge."
Related link: US And China Conducted Cyber War Games In Secret