Tuesday, 19 February 2013
The scale of the Chinese hacking alleged by the computer security firm Mandiant is striking. Until now the bulk of this hacking has been a digital version of old-fashioned industrial espionage - stealing designs and company secrets.
But there is a more sinister side to this activity as well. Chinese hackers are alleged to have a growing interest in gaining access to key parts of the US infrastructure - gas lines, power grids and waterworks. President Barack Obama himself warned during his recent State of the Union address that the nature of the cyber threat was changing.
Gaining access to critical systems is the key. Once inside the digital perimeter - especially if the intrusion is not identified, there is the possibility of causing real physical damage to the infrastructure that the computers control.