Early in May it was reported that Qinetiq had become the latest U.S. defense contractor to be hacked by the Chinese military. A security problem identified some months ago had still not been addressed, and considerable information was extracted from the company’s computers. Cyber espionage is on a par with other kinds of communication intercept, but it is more active, like conventional espionage. It is also much safer: No one sitting behind a computer monitor in Shanghai risks having the FBI break down the door.
Presumably the United States has made some attempt to penetrate China’s computer security, but the Chinese have less worth stealing, and they do not rely nearly as much on computer networks. As long as the United States leads the world in defense-system development, it will remain the single most attractive target of cyber espionage, and not only from the Chinese.