India's recent power outage in July of this year of almost 50% of the country's generation capacity was a shocker to most in the West. Over 640 million people in 19 states in India lost power. The alleged cause of the power grid failure was the higher demand from the use of water pumps by rural farmers due to drought, causing the need to pump water from distant sources. However, One India News reported that there may have been another contributing factor, aside from demand. (http://news.oneindia.in/2012/08/22/china-s-hand-in-india-s-power-blackout-1057676.html)
The blame surrounding the failure of India's northern power grid has been attributed to corruption, graft, greed and, most recently as related in the Washington Times citing One India News, by a purposeful strategy by the People's Republic of China (PRC) to undermine India's power grid. Whether or not this was a demonstration by the PRC's military of their ability to disable a potential adversary's power grid through a concerted cyber attack as was alleged by India, or a red herring by India's power companies to assuage blame has yet to be determined. (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/aug/29/inside-china-missile-defense-conspiracy/#ixzz25S8WR6fB)
What is known is that over the last few years, PRC companies undertook the modernization of the northern India power grid with successful bids worth several hundreds of millions of dollars. These contracts were to install new control infrastructure, new transmission facilities and equipment, including switching centers to transfer loads from one area to another, and key components to modernize and to upgrade the power grid as part of a master plan to modernize India's power grid.
The PRC companies are alleged to have installed "back doors" into the computerized control systems for the power grid. These "back doors" are alleged to be for the benefit of the Chinese military to exploit. The PRC companies are also alleged to have installed faulty components that broke down under load. It has been alleged that the PRC's military undertook a concerted cyber attack against the control facilities using the alleged "back doors".
Where have we heard those allegations before? From our very own Department of Defense.
SecDef Leon Panetta has complained and warned of electronics parts and machined parts supplied to western defense contractors used in NATO and U.S. equipment as being defective and failure prone. Panetta has also stated that the PRC suppliers have provided a "back door" to much of the communications and computerized systems purchased from PRC suppliers.
It was recently disclosed that a major new weapons system, the Boeing P8 Poseidon, a replacement for the Navy's land based P3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft was compromised by defective electronic components and components having a "back door" accessible to the PRC military. The P8 is a modified Boeing 737-800 aircraft modified for the military sub hunting mission.
Defective and counterfit integrated circuits supplied by PRC companies have also been found in Thales military communications gear used by NATO and U.S. forces world-wide.
It is simply incredible to think that the United States is buying critical military components from a country that has a nuclear first strike policy against the United States! Further, the United States Navy has sacked at least one Pacific Fleet Carrier battle group commander for the failure to detect a PRC Navy submarine that actually surfaced to disclose its presence to the American Navy earlier this year. A submarine the P8 is designed to detect . . ..
PRC telecommunications companies have publically disclosed that they have hacked much of the U.S. telecom infrastructure using PRC supplied equipment installed in the U.S. as a starting point for the hacks. The assault by the PRC on U.S. companies' mainframes and other computer infrastructure, including power grid and water system control systems has been admitted by U.S. officials. The loss of data to the PRC is unknown.
The Pentagon has recognized the threat with the creation of the new Cyber Command. Yet, the PRC military has ignored the assertions by our SecDef that an attack on U.S. power grid or other common control infrastructure that would have national impact would be construed as an act of war. The cyber attacks against our military computing infrastructure is a daily occurrence. Same for the attacks attributed to the PRC military against our commercial data infrastructure, and command and control systems for our power grids and water supplies. Our telecommunications systems are already compromised.
Sun Tzu: The Art of War
III. Attack by Stratagem
"1. . . . In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole
2. Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.
. . . 6. Therefore the skillful leader subdues the enemy’s troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field.
7. With his forces intact he will dispute the mastery of the Empire, and thus, without losing a man, his triumph will be complete. This is the method of attacking by stratagem.
. . . 17. Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory:
(1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.
(2) He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces.
(3) He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.
(4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.
(5) He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign."
If what was conveyed by the Washington Times is true, we have had a precursor of the strategy of the PRC's military in using commercial and military cyber resources to attack the infrastructure of a target state. Our State Department and our President need to let the SecDef and the U.S. military do their jobs of protecting U.S. infrastructure unfettered by illusions of "good will" on the part of the Red Chinese where there are none on the part of the Red Chinese.
Whether we like to admit or not, another layer of strategy of the PRC in its undeclared conflict with the United States may have been revealed by the alleged cyber attacks against India's power grid in July of this year. We can either pay attention and focus on eliminating our weaknesses in our cyber control systems, or, we can pay the price: ". . . He will win who . . .waits to take the enemy unprepared."
The PRC is not playing games.