Spy vs spy, internet-style

The US, pointing fingers at China for spying, owns most of the playing field writes Asia Sentinel’s John Berthelsen   

Earlier this week, Admiral Dennis C. Blair, the US’s new so-called cyber-czar appointed by President Barack Obama, warned that an “increasingly sophisticated group of enemies has severely threatened the sometimes fragile systems undergirding America’s information systems,” according to the New York Times.

Over recent weeks, partly triggered over a controversial warning by Google that its systems had been hacked and that China was engaging in censorship of the Internet search giant, China in particular has come under fire for what critics say is a fast-growing capability to mine both commercial and military data across the planet.

However, lost in the concern about China is that the Americans invented cyber warfare. They spend more money on it and they are probably by far the most sophisticated operators in the world. If the total United States defense budget is bigger than the combined military budgets of the next seven biggest countries in the world, it is probably a safe bet that its spending on cyber warfare is in equal proportion.

By most estimates, US defense spending accounts for 45 percent of the world total, followed in order by the United Kingdom, China, France and Japan – each officially at between 4 and 5 percent. China’s defense spending accounts officially for about 5 percent of the world total, although it could be considerably larger due to hidden budgetary allocations. If hidden allocations were to double China’s total spending, the US would still be spending four times as much.