WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- The Department of Defense suffered a record 79,000 computer network attacks last year.
Some of the attacks actually reduced the military's operational capabilities, analyst Peter Brookes of the Washington-based conservative Heritage Foundation wrote in the New York Post Monday.
In the past, top-flight military units such as the Army's 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions and the 4th Infantry Division have been "hacked," Brookes wrote.
According to Pentagon sources, most attacks on America's "digital" Achilles' Heel are originating from the People's Republic of China (PRC), and highlight Chinese information warfare (IW) operations, Brookes wrote.
IW involves network attack, exploitation and defense. It was all the rage in the late 1990s, but faded in importance since 9/11 in comparison to the immediate challenges of Islamist terrorism, Iraq and Afghanistan, Brookes wrote.
China is serious about cyberwarfare, making the development of IW capability a top national-security priority. China's military planners recognize that the United States dependence on computers for command, control, communications and intelligence is a potential strategic weakness, ripe for exploitation.
China's military has incorporated cyberwarfare tactics into military exercises and created schools that specialize in IW. It is also hiring top computer-science graduates to develop its cyberwarfare capabilities and, literally, create an "army of hackers," Brookes wrote.
Today, the Pentagon uses over 5 million computers on 100,000 networks at 1,500 sites in 65 countries worldwide. The U.S. military's increasing dependence on cutting-edge, network-centric warfare makes it a prime target for potential adversaries, he wrote.