Text: | Print | Share

"Blue team" to protect nation's cyber security

2011-06-27 17:19    Ecns.cn     Web Editor: Ma Cunyu

(Ecns.cn)-- As China has recently been the victim of cyber attacks, the "cyber blue team" of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) was established to better safeguard the internet security of the armed forces, Defense Ministry spokesperson Geng Yansheng said last month.

Geng's remarks have caused a splash on the internet, in which military experts and netizens have vigorously discussed the use of the "blue team."

Based at the PLA's southern Guangzhou Military Command, establishment of the virtual force, comprised of 30 technology-savvy officers and soldiers, is a move in the right direction, experts say, targeting one of the most sensitive and largely invisible battle fields in the internet age. A rising number of militaries, including the US, Great Britain, Russia, Japan, and India are now setting up cyber warfare commands to protect their national interests.

"In peaceful times, the cyber blue team will help improve our defense capabilities, but in the case of cyber attacks during wartime, we will undoubtedly fight back with counter cyber attacks," military expert, Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo said.

Besides the mission, the term itself has become a topic of discussion among experts, on whether the color blue has any ideological meaning for the PLA's cyber army.

The term "red army" is used to represent the enemy troops during exercises by the Western countries, while the PLA uses the term "blue army."

"It is an ideological habit of the Western militaries to use red as the enemy in their exercises. Yet there is no international regulation on army colors and the PLA did not pick the color blue intentionally," Teng Jianqun, a researcher with the China Institute of International Studies said.

"The blue team is just a code name for military exercises earmarked for cyber counter-attack," said the deputy secretary general of the China Association for Military Science, Major General Luo Yuan.

The code name shows that cyber defense in China is just in a primitive stage, compared with other countries, said Li Li, a researcher with the National Defense University.

"It is merely a team for the purpose military drills, rather than a cyber army equivalent to navy and air forces," she said.

As usual, the official announcement of China's establishment for the cyber squad has caused outside grievances and criticisms.

Over the weekend, Agence France-Presse said in a report that the PLA's latest move "is sure to ring alarm bells around the world among governments and businesses wary of Beijing's intentions," suggesting that the U.S., Australia, Germany, and other Western nations have long alleged that hackers inside China are implementing a wide-range of attacks on other governments' computer systems.

In response to the criticism, Professor Zhang Zhaozhong, a military expert with the National Defense University, said China is, in fact, the victim of cyber attacks due to its vulnerability in virtual space.

"The number of root-servers in China is zero, which means it is very vulnerable to cyber attacks," he said. "Compared to the US, China is merely a user of the internet, rather than a manipulator."

As crucial information of a country's finances, utilities, satellite and telecommunication facilities, and strategic military installations are now linked by one cable, it is important for a sovereign nation to erect the best possible firewalls to deny others' attack, said Teng Jianqun, who also said the "blue team" should not be compared to hackers.

"The team was established to defend rather than attack," he said.