China is becoming increasingly aggressive in its attempts to replicate Russia’s cyber and information warfare, the former head of US national security has warned.
Mike Rogers, a retired admiral and senior US intelligence official, suggested that Beijing was inspired by Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election campaign.
“The Russians have been doing this for decades. There’s a reason they’ve been doing this for decades. They believe it is effective and helps or at least improves the situation they are trying to solve,” he told the National Press Club.
“You only saw this really play out, you know, in the near future in the 2016 election process.
“I believe that China has looked at this and decided that all this information affects the strategy and the idea, there is something that we need to pay attention to.”
Over the past 18 months, China has become “more aggressive” in its efforts to campaign for influence.
“I would say the Russians are still bigger,” Mr. Rogers said.
Mr. Rogers simultaneously headed the NSA and US Cyber Command under both Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
During the past two US election cycles, the unit has worked together to identify and combat foreign influence campaigns.
He pointed to Ukraine’s cyber defense as an example of fighting Russian influence.
Both governments recognized early on that they had no way to continue the strikes and they were turned over to the private sector and hackers around the world.
“(Ukraine, Ukrainian) went out into the world and said the same thing,” he said.
“We don’t care if you are Ukrainian, if you want to change something, if you are somewhere in the world and think you have a skill set in cyberspace, whether for hacking purposes or protection purposes, we have a place for you .
“For the first time in an armed conflict, we see two main actors in the hostilities – mass cybercrime and cyber defense. We haven’t seen this before.”
Mr. Rogers currently works for CyberCX, which provides cybersecurity training to boards of directors and corporate executives.
His visit came after Australia signed a historic security agreement with the US.
He said that while most of the discussion focused on the nuclear submarine, the focus should have been on the possibility of sharing information and cyber skills.
“The reality is that cyberspace has become a key aspect of the country’s national security, as well as its economic competitiveness,” the admiral said.
“Cyber is the best team sport and AUKUS needs to reflect that.”
Originally published as ‘Aggressive’: One thing China has learned from Russia