Today China formally announced that the Chinese People's Liberation Arny has set up a cyber command called the "Blue Army". Anyone who has been paying attention knows that cyber crime and cyber espionage has been going on for some time and that it is very likely that many viruses and so forth have come out of China. US computer security firm Symantec states that they estimate 30% of all malicious emails come out of China. That is not to say that the Chinese government has been behind them all. It is very plausible that various other nefarious elements such as Russian and Chinese crime syndicates have used the available pool of tech savvy Chinese and lack of oversight to launder money, steal industrial secrets and so forth.
The spokesman for the PLA, Geng Yansheng, stated that the goal of the Blue Army was to improve the country's military security. He also stated that China has been the victim of computer based attacks and that the network security of China was relatively weak. While probably true, that will not likely quiet the storm of people in the West that will use the announcement of the Blue Army's existence to call for more resources to be dedicated to national information and network security. Nor should it. While we should try to be as friendly as possible with the Chinese, both government and people, we do need to realize that they might not feel the same way. Also it is normally assumed that China very dearly wishes to dethrone us as the world superpower.
The Blue Army is reportedly run out of the Guandong Military Command, has existed for at least 2 years and consists of 30 people. I find it hard to believe that a country of 1.5 billion people, with the world's largest military and a fervent desire to modernize would have a computer army of 30 people. I could get 30 nerds together in my buddy's computer repair shop by tomorrow morning. I think it is safe to assume that the real size of the Blue Army is a much bigger than that. That being said, it could be that the Chinese have compartmentalized their network defense and that the intelligence services also maintain a sizable "cyber-police" (for back-tracing). This is even more likely when you think about the steps that the Communist Party has taken in an attempt to prevent their citizens from unfettered Internet access. It is also a good bet that the powers that be in China are at least occasionally interested in checking on the online activities of their flock and perhaps, you know, read an email or two.
So, America's decision makers-- get crackin' on this or we will fall so far behind that we might as well give the country to the Chinese Communist Party (the parts of it they don't already own that is). While cyber security has been talked about a great deal, I like a lot of of other people do not believe that enough has been done to give our country adequate defenses against this new form of warfare and espionage. We need to ensure that we have intelligent, tech savvy, creative, and loyal people working on this for us. And not just as contractors working under multi million dollar contracts. We need an organic National Security cyber team. How about full scholarships and guaranteed jobs for some computer science students for a start? So, come up with some cool name and get to it Department of Defense.