Thoughts On The USCC’s New Report On Chinese Cyberattacks: CFR

On March 9th, 2012, Adam Segal wrote for the Council of Foreign Relations on the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission's recent report.  You can find that report here.  The report considered China's cyber-capabilities, the connection between the Chinese government and Chinese universities, and how the Chinese would likely target US logistic and transportation networks in the event of a conflict.

In his analysis of the report, Segal argued that we should remember four things:

1)  Much of the report explored the PLA's cyber-aspirations, not necessarily its cyber-capabilities.  There is a difference between what the PLA wants to do (as evidenced by their doctrinal writings) and what they can do.  Even the commission report noted that senior PLA officials have provided a "blunt assessment of the [Chinese cyber] shortcomings still being experienced." 

2)  Segal noted that the commission report is "not a net assessment."  In this sense, the report doesn't consider the US cyber-capability and how the US could repel the specific operations described.  So, yes, the Chinese may have this cyber-capability, but the US certainly wouldn't stand pat if the Chinese were to use it.

3)  Although the US may have an understanding of "Chinese thinking at the tactical level", we still don't know how the Chinese leadership views the "political or strategic implications of a cyberattack on U.S. interests" at the strategic level.  Segal explored this point with regard to critical infrastructure: would Chinese leadership limit cyberattacks to military targets, or would it be willing to move beyond military targets?

4)  Finally, Segal noted the effect of Chinese cyber-espionage and its impact on the US policy response.  The commission report found that "without retribution or hard evidence" of Chinese cyber-espionage, "Chinese leadership may be emboldened toward greater risk-taking for preemptive network-based attacks . . .."  To combat this, Segal believes that the US must engage in a policy of "calling the perpetrators out."

You can find the CFR source article here.

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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. She is the 2018-9 Editor in Chief of the Syracuse Law Review, as well as a member of the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography

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