President Obama has warned the Chinese government that cyber attacks against the US are “not acceptable”, just a few weeks ahead of a state visit from China’s president Xi Jinping.
Obama said during a briefing with troops from the military in Washington that the US and other leading nations such as China, Russia and Iran need to “craft agreements” over how cyber warfare should be conducted.
He insinuated that this would be something he would discuss with the Chinese, making it clear that the US believes cyber attacks will be treated as “a core national security threat”.
“I’m going to be getting a state visit from president Xi of China in a couple of weeks, and we’ve made very clear to the Chinese that there are certain practices that they’re engaging in that we know are emanating from China and are not acceptable,” he said.
“And we can choose to make this an area of competition, which I guarantee we’ll win if we have to, or alternatively we can come to an agreement where we say this isn’t helping anyway, let’s try to have some basic rules of the road in terms of how we operate.”
Obama admitted that the Chinese, Russians and Iranians had “caught up” with the US in the cyber arena, and that the scale of the situation and threat it poses is accelerating all the time.
“Offence is moving lot faster than defence,” said Obama, adding later: “Were going to have to get much more rapid in responding to attacks.”
Obama also said that the US needs to improve its response to cyber threats at a government level and in the wider business and consumer worlds.
“The bulk of vulnerable information isn’t in our military, it’s in our private sector, it's throughout our economy, it’s on your smartphone,” he said.
“So we’re going to have to strengthen overall networks, but we’re also going to have to train millions of individual actors, small businesses, big vendors and individuals in terms of basic cyber hygiene.”
The full video interview by Obama is embedded below. The cyber comments begin from 30:30.
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