By Shi Wangsheng
Last year, the Cyber Strategy released by the US Department of Defense emphasized the concept of "defense forward". The outside world interpreted such a move as the US military will conduct cyber offensive and defensive operations in other countries, rather than in the US homeland. Earlier, the US President also grant military the freedom to deploy advanced cyber weapons without hindrance. As the initiator of cyber warfare, the US is accelerating to drag the world into a cyber war where there will be no winner.
For years, American politicians have been advocating the risk of a possible "cyber Pearl Harbor attack". Ironically, the US is the first to attack other countries' facilities with cyber weapons in the world.
As the initiator of cyber warfare, the US is not only the most powerful country, but also the country that conducted the most cyber warfare.
In 2004, the US launched a cyber attack that led to Libya’s top-level domain name paralysis. In 2010, the "Stuxnet" virus jointly created by the US and Israel attacked Iran's nuclear facilities, causing Iran's 1,000 centrifuges to be scrapped and its nuclear program to be almost "stagnant."
In 2016, former US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter admitted for the first time that the US attacked the ISIS by Internet means. This is the first time that the US has publicly acknowledged cyber attack as a combat means.
A large-scale power outage occurred in Venezuela at the beginning of March 2019, with 18 of Venezuela’s 23 states affected, directly causing widespread chaotic situation in national traffic, medical care, communication and infrastructure facilities.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro accused the US of planning a "cyber attack" on Venezuela's electricity network, with the aim of creating chaos and forcing the government to step down.
Some analysts believe that launching a cyber attack against Venezuela might be the best option for the US in the absence of direct and indirect military intervention.
The US has never stopped its preparations for cyber warfare. At the end of 2016, the US further enhanced the strategic position and operational value of cyber warfare, elevating the US Cyber Command, which was formerly under the US Strategic Command, to an independent first-level command. The US has established a three-tier, that is, President-Defense Secretary-Commander, cyber warfare commanding mechanism.
At present, the US has 133 cyber warfare troops. During the decade from 2006 to 2016, the US had conducted seven large-scale "Cyber Storm" exercises or cyberspace warfare drills, among which three attack and defense operations were specifically targeted at China.
US President Donald Trump signed an order in August 2018 to overturn the "Presidential Policy Directive No. 20" (PPD-20) signed by former President Barack Obama in 2012, allowing the military to deploy advanced cyber weapons more freely without being obstructed by the State Council or the intelligence community.
Jason Healey, a Columbia University researcher and cyber security expert, is very concerned about the US practices. He believes that the US has slipped into a permanent cyber war, and there will be no real winners.
There are reasons to worry. The US has continuously strengthened its cyber warfare set-ups and made terrible examples to the world. If other countries or its rivals follow suit, the US will never have a good ending. Instead, it is likely to be the first to bear the brunt.
Attacking each other will never help achieve network security, and it will only make cyberspace embark on a road of escalated confrontation with no return.
(The article was published in Chinese on the People's Daily, June 14, 2019. It is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.)