With the increasing frequency of cyber attacks — including a campaign of cyber theft linked to the Chinese government — the Obama administration has begun to develop more aggressive responses to the theft of U.S. government data and corporate trade secrets.
Measures expected to be announced today include fines and other trade actions against any country found guilty of cyber espionage.
Earlier in the week, Virginia-based cyber security firm, Mandiant, released details linking a secret Chinese military unit, the People's Liberation Army Unit 61398, in Shanghai, to years of cyber attacks against U.S. companies.
Military experts believe the People's Liberation Army's actions have been authorized by the highest levels of China's military.
The Chinese government, however, denies any involvement in the cyber attacks, which compromised more than 140 companies, calling Mandiant's report "deeply flawed."
But the report, which features details on three of the alleged hackers and photographs of one of the military unit's buildings in Shanghai, is obviously convincing enough that the U.S. government is considering taking more forceful action against China.
"If the Chinese government flew planes into our airspace, our planes would escort them away. If it happened two, three or four times, the president would be on the phone and there would be threats of retaliation," said Shawn Henry, former FBI executive assistant director, in a statement. "This is happening thousands of times a day. There needs to be some definition of where the red line is and what the repercussions would be."
China also claimed it has been a victim of hacking, citing a report from an agency under the Ministry of Information Technology and Industry, which states that in 2012 alone, foreign hackers used malicious software to seize control of 1,400 computers and 38,000 websites in the country.
A spokesperson from the Ministry, Hong Lei, added that the majority of these attacks originated in the U.S.
The Obama administration's measures today closely follow the news that the government recently approved pre-emptive cyber attacks if deemed necessary.