Chinese cyber espionage very disturbing: Michael Hayden
Washington: A former top US intelligence official has expressed concern over efforts of Chinese cyber espionage, saying it should not be allowed to continue.
"China is not an enemy of the United States. There're no good reasons for China to become an enemy of the US. There're logical, non-heroic policy choices available to the Chinese and to us to keep the relationship competitive, occasionally maybe confrontational, never has to get to the level of conflict," said Michael Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency and CIA.
"About Chinese espionage and more broadly Chinese cyber behaviour is very, very disturbing and it should not be allowed to stand - but by the way, the President used the same taxonomy you and I just did. There's an espionage danger and then there's a destructive danger," Hayden said on Tuesday at the George Washington University wherein he discussed cyber attacks and national security.
Hayden, who headed the CIA from May 2006 to February 2009, even went to extent of advocating stopping to buy i-phones made in China.
"Yeah" and "Why not?" he said when asked "We're going to stop buying their televisions and their iPhones?"
"Why should we allow them to export that to the United States? Why should we allow Chinese, who are participatory in this, to come to the United States? We can control who gets visas. I mean, there're lots of things - there're lots of ways we can make this relationship less comfortable to them. If this is important, and I think you and I agree that it is, then you've got to start taking some actions. Now, are they painless for us? No, but you asked my view," he observed.
Trade ties are the point of maximum leverage, he said.
"I think the Chinese really want to be treated as a great power. I think a prerequisite for that would be to act like a great power," Hayden said.
He said the US intelligence community was aware of the latest allegations mentioned in a report that a unit of the Chinese military is engaged in cyber attacks against the US.
"We knew that and we were aware of that. It wasn't as public knowledge as it is now, but there's been this building wave in American public consciousness that this is going and some, I think, very correct and somewhat brave people, the national counterintelligence executive has pointed to the Chinese, the House Intel Committee has pointed to the Chinese, and now Mandiant has pointed to the Chinese," he said.
"The President knew about this. Mike McConnell was the director of National Intelligence while I was at Langley (CIA headquarters). Mike was obsessed with this. He talked to the President. He got president (George W) Bush to accept his comprehensive cyber-security initiative and it carried over to the next administration," he said.
"We use cyber attack for anything unpleasant that happens to us on the web. And in my business, a cyber attack is someone using a weapon comprised of ones and zeroes to effect damage, to effect harm. We don't call espionage a cyber- attack. Almost everything we have seen to date has been espionage rather than destruction. Almost all the ill behavior we see right now comprises stealing information," he said.