“These peacetime intrusions into the networks of key defence contractors are more evidence of China’s aggressive actions in cyberspace,” Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said.
Chinese officials have denied the allegations, however, calling them “groundless”. The row between China and the US over cyber attacks has been long-running.
The report – only recently made public – reveals a lack of transparency between contractors and officials, who were only informed about two of these incidents. US Government agencies also failed to share the information about the attacks among themselves.
Senator Jim Inhofe has now called for a central clearinghouse to make it easier for contractors to report suspicious cyber activity.
About 20 of the 50 cyber attacks were discovered to be advanced persistent threats (APTs). APTs are described as threats posed by organised crime and state-level entities, who target large multinational corporations and foreign governments with the objective of stealing information or compromising information systems.
The goal of an APT is not necessarily to bring a business, government, or nation down, but to stay embedded and steal information undetected. This is a major area of concern, in particular the number and severity of APTs coming out of China.
Read more about the long-running feud between China and the US in 21st Century Chinese Cyberwarfare, which investigates the use of cyber warfare doctrine by the People’s Republic of China.