James Andrew Lewis is a senior fellow and director of the technology and public policy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
If you work in Washington — on the Hill or on K Street, at a law firm or at a think tank — you’ve probably been hacked. If you work at a major American company, you’ve probably been hacked, too. The penetration of U.S. computer networks by Chinese hackers has been going on for more than three decades. It’s good that it is finally getting attention, but with that spotlight have come exaggeration and myths that need to be discarded.
1. We are in a cyber cold war with China.
We are not in a war — cold, cool or hot — with China in cyberspace. There have been none of the threats, denouncements or proxy conflicts that characterize a cold war. In fact, the administration appears to have omitted any mention of the Chinese military in recent high-profile speeches on Chinese hacking. After Treasury Secretary Jack Lew met recently with top Chinese officials in Beijing, he told reporters there that cyberattacks and cyber-espionage are a “very serious threat to our economic interests.”