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U.S. military remains on cyber alert

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. military remains on heightened cyber-alert as the holiday season approaches, following at least one intrusion by suspected Chinese military hackers.

The Joint Task Force for Global Network Operations, a part of U.S. Strategic Command, raised the U.S. military's global cyber-alert level, or "Information Condition," from InfoCon 5 to InfoCon 4 on Nov. 17, and had no plans to lower it, Strategic Command Spokeswoman Capt. Caroline Wellman told United Press International.

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"We don't discuss specific details of InfoCon levels, nor why they are raised or lowered," Wellman said, adding only that they were adjusted from time to time, in part "depending upon world-wide social and political events and activities."

The heightened alert came the day after the decision of the Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command to take the computer network at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., offline following an intrusion.

Cmdr. Doug Gabos, a military spokesman, told UPI the compromised network was unclassified and could not give an estimate as to when it would be back up.

"They are still taking steps to mitigate the intrusion," he said, adding the compromised systems would be examined forensically for evidence about the hackers.

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The college is the home of the Naval Strategic Studies Group, which reportedly develops the service's cyber-warfare strategy. Its Web site also continues to be down.

The Washington Times, which first reported the outage, said a professor at the college told his class the intrusion had come from China -- part of an increasingly aggressive cyber-war policy by the People's Liberation Army. Time magazine revealed last year the existence of what it called a "massive cyber-espionage ring" based in China that U.S. investigators codenamed Titan Rain.

The congressionally mandated U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission said in its annual report last month that the Chinese military had moved its cyber warfare strategy from a defensive to an offensive posture.

"Such attacks would be intended to disable defense systems that facilitate command and control and intelligence communication and the delivery of precision weapons, primary instruments for the conduct of modern U.S. warfare," the report stated.

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