“The United States has expressed our concerns about the growing threat of cyber intrusions, some of which appear to be tied to the Chinese government and military,” Hagel said at a defense conference on June 1.
Hagel offered some comments even before he arrived to Singapore to reporters flying with him on his plane. As the issue of cyber security grows and more leaders highlight the threat to national security, more questions have arisen within the question and answer sessions leaders hold with the media.
Hagel made his comments in Singapore after the Washington Post reported that a Defense Science Board had found that China had hacked into the designs of dozens of the U.S. military’s top weapons programs. Using that report as a news peg, Hagel was asked if he thought “the strategy of calling out China publicly has borne fruit?’
The defense secretary back pedaled a bit saying it’s difficult to prove who conducts a cyber attack but he said the Pentagon could tell where the attacks start.
“It’s pretty hard to prove that they are directed by any specific entity. But we can tell where they come from. And I think we’ve got to be honest with that — about that. I think we’ve got to let people know that,” Hagel said on May 31.
He said the U.S. would prefer to keep these concerns private, but the threat has forced leadership to shine a public light on it.
“You solve these problems and you get to an understanding by using the other range of your — of your capacities and that’s more private,” Hagel said on May 31. “But it has to be public as well. And we’ll deal with this. We must deal with this. This is a very dangerous threat to all of us.”
He further defined his concern with the growing threat of cyber attacks and the level of worry the Pentagon has about them.
“Cyber threats are real. They’re terribly dangerous. They’re probably as insidious and real a threat to the United States — as well as China, by the way — and every nation. This is not a threat just unique to America. It’s unique to no one. It crosses all borders,” Hagel said.