The bickering between the United States and the People's Republic of China escalated as U.S. Intelligence officials outright called China the world's largest perpetrator of economic espionage. The accusation, issued in an intelligence report published today, comes shortly after public complaints about the affect of China's so-called 'Great Firewall' on American business interests, and reveal that Chinese hackers went after American satellites in 2007 and 2008. The timing of these statements is almost certainly not coincidental, and may represent a more aggressive U.S. tone that is probably unrelated to the start of a contentious U.S. presidential in the midst of a crippling economic downturn.
According to the report, hackers employed by the governments of China and Russia, as well as working for corporate entities in those nations, have waged a particularly successful campaign of economic espionage and technology theft in recent years, supposedly endangering $398 billion in American research. Targeted industries include Pharmaceuticals, military equipment and advanced materials. Though both Russia and China were cited as relying heavily on such tactics to build their own industries, China was singled out for particular scorn. (Russia's efforts are reported to be a 'distant second' to China's). Interestingly, the accusations are somewhat contradicting of a recent Australian study that claims China's cuber-warfare capabilities, though hugely staffed, are rudimentary at best.
The report did cite cloud computing and the storage of data in single or connected places as adding to the risk by making the job of hackers bent on accessing such information easier, and specifically cites American companies who don't take the issue seriously. Naturally, US government anger over the problem is understandable, not only due to the very real economic threat posed by application of stolen data, but because the United States has never engaged in anything similar, ever.