David Wise
Intelligence Expert

Cyber War Games: U.S. Versus China

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Cyber warfare is one form of espionage that is currently being waged between the U.S. and China. In the event of a full-scale conflict, how would this war be fought, and who would win the war?

David Wise

David Wise is America’s leading writer on intelligence and espionage. His latest book, Tiger Trap: America’s Secret Spy War with China (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011) was published in June 2011 and listed by Publishers Weekly as one of the Top Ten political books of spring 2011. His book, Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI's Robert Hanssen Betrayed America (Random House, 2002) received high praise from reviewers as the best account of the case. An earlier book, Nightmover: How Aldrich Ames Sold the CIA to the KGB for $4.6 Million (HarperCollins, 1995) was cited by The New York Times Book Review as "the most authoritative" account and was excerpted in TIME magazine.

Mr. Wise is the coauthor of The Invisible Government, the book about the Central Intelligence Agency that became the number-one best seller in the United States and has been widely credited with bringing about a reappraisal of the role of the CIA in a democratic society. He is also the author of Cassidy's Run: The Secret Spy War Over Nerve Gas, (Random House 2000), Molehunt: The Secret Search for Traitors that Shattered the CIA (Random House, 1992), The Spy Who Got Away (Random House, l988), a book about the CIA's first defector to the Soviet Union, The American Police State (Random House, 1976), and The Politics of Lying (Random House, 1973). With Thomas B. Ross, he is coauthor of The Espionage Establishment (Random House, 1967), The Invisible Government (Random House, 1964), and The U-2 Affair (Random House, 1962). Mr. Wise is also the author of three espionage novels, The Samarkand Dimension (Doubleday, 1987), The Children's Game (St. Martin's/Marek, 1983), and Spectrum (Viking, 1981), all published to enthusiastic reviews.

TIGER TRAP: America’s Secret Spy War with China is the first comprehensive account of these wars.  Drawing on unparalleled insider sourcing, Wise discloses the extraordinary successes and penetrations of American national security achieved by the Chinese.  New revelations include how the CIA learned China had discovered the details of America’s most advanced nuclear warhead, and how Chinese intelligence managed to penetrate both the FBI and the CIA.  Wise also addresses concerns about China’s recent cyper-espionage attacks.


David Wise: There's a lot we don’t know about the digital warfare that’s going on.  Both sides have developed military plans to cripple, disable the internet or digital resources of a possible adversary.  That’s not a secret. 

It’s very difficult to say who has the upper hand in this battle because the United States is certainly well aware of the vulnerability of our infrastructure--our power grid, our electric grid, our communications grid, our aviation grid.  We're very vulnerable as a highly industrialized society, and China is becoming more and more of a global economic power, so they, in turn, are vulnerable. 

Right now, the focus seems to be hacking by China into Google, for example, and into, I think 34 American companies at the time that Google threatened to pull out of China, and not very much on what the United States may be doing, so we don’t know.  We don’t know because that hasn’t been publicized in the way that China’s activities have been publicized. 

There is this problem of attribution because when something is hacked, whether it be an individual or a company, and a Trojan Horse is put in or some kind of worm or virus, there’s always the question of, you know, is this being done by some high student in Sheboygan or is it being done from Estonia with someone pretending they are a server in China, or is it being done in Taiwan or is it being done in China?  And that problem of attribution makes it very difficult to say, “Yes, the Chinese are doing this.  The Chinese government is doing this and its policy of the Beijing leaders.”  We can’t say that.  We don’t know that even though all the signs point to that.