President Obama upbraids China over cyber attacks

'Some are state-sponsored, some are just sponsored by criminals'

Related Stories

President Barack Obama has said in a TV interview that the US is engaging in "tough talk" with China about its alleged cyber attacks on America.

Mr Obama told ABC News some, but not all, hacking originating from China was state sponsored, although he played down congressional talk of a cyber war.

He spoke a day after US intelligence chiefs said cyber attacks had replaced terrorism as the main security threat.

China denies such hacking and says it is the victim of such attacks.

Mr Obama was asked in the interview with ABC News, broadcast on Wednesday, about claims from US lawmakers that the scale of attacks on American firms and infrastructure amounted to a cyber "war" with China.

"You know, there's a big difference between them engaging in cyber espionage or cyber attacks and obviously a hot war," the president said.

"What is absolutely true is that we have seen a steady ramping up of cyber security threats. Some are state sponsored. Some are just sponsored by criminals.

Table showing the industries most often targeted by the hackers

"We've made it very clear to China and some other state actors that, you know, we expect them to follow international norms and abide by international rules.

"And we'll have some pretty tough talk with them. We already have."

China has long been suspected of a role in cyber attacks, prompting Pentagon warnings that America must guard against a "digital Pearl Harbor". A US congressional report last year named China as "the most threatening actor in cyberspace".

The issue has become a growing bone of contention between Washington and Beijing.

On Tuesday, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a Senate committee that cyber attacks and cyber espionage had supplanted terrorism as the top security threat facing the country.

A day earlier in New York, US National Security Advisor Tom Donilon called on Beijing to take steps to stop cyber crime.

Last month, a report from US security firm Mandiant said a unit of China's People's Liberation Army had mounted data raids on the computer systems of more than 140 mostly US-based organisations.

US state department officials have said hacking comes up "in virtually every meeting we have with Chinese officials".

In January, the New York Times said it had been subject to cyber attacks from China, following the newspaper's report on the wealth of outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao's family.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More US & Canada stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • GeoguessrWhere in the world?

    Think you’re a geography expert? Test your knowledge with BBC Travel’s Geoguessr

Programmes

  • Suspension bridge connecting mountain peaksThe Travel Show Watch

    Must-see global events including walking the first suspension bridge to connect mountain peaks

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.