To an extent Chinese state media revealed some of the PLA's cyber warfare capabilities. Its unlikely the cyber warriors depicted above would regularly wear their helmets to work. China may have the 2nd to 4th largest cyber warfare capability in the world.
In pursuit of Australia by the Indian Ocean’s (a non-profit nor revenue, educational site’s) interest in non-“Five Eyes” sigint-cyber issues the following is of interest.
On April 15, 2014, ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre released its inaugural Cyber Maturity in the Asia-Pacific Region 2014 report(PDF). To read the complete ASPI Report see https://www.aspi.org.au/publications/cyber-maturity-in-the-asia-pacific-region-2014/ASPI_cyber_maturity_2014.pdf
This Report analyses the ‘cyber maturity’ of some countries in the Asia–Pacific region. Cyber indicators cover whole-of-government policy and legislative structures, military organisation, business and digital economic strength and levels of cyber social awareness. The research base underpinning each of these indicator groups has collated exclusively from information in the public domain and as such this report’s conclusions are based solely on open-source material.
Page 9 of the report explains: “Military uses of cyberspace, particularly national capabilities, are a sensitive topic for all regional states, and this area requires careful consideration before engagement is sought or agreed to. What is the military’s role in cyberspace, cyber policy and cybersecurity?
Under the section What is the military’s role in cyberspace, cyber policy and cybersecurity? for each country area the Report’s descriptions are as follows:
(page 19) Cambodia
While it appears that the Cambodian Armed Forces have at least a superficial involvement with cyber policy and security, the extent and detail of that involvement remain unclear in open-source material. Regardless of the level of defence force involvement, it’s understood that Cambodia has a ‘very limited’ capability to defend against cyberattacks.
(page 22) China
Open-source reporting indicates that the PLA has several bureaus that actively conduct cyber-espionage operations. The PLA has also published several doctrinal information and development articles and monographs on information warfare and the role of cyber capabilities in military operations. China’s score is reduced by the apparent lack of coordination of these activities within the PLA.
[For a long Australia by the Indian Ocean article concerning China's sigint-cyber capabilities see New US Paper on China's Defence Sigint and Infosec Service (aka PLA GSD Third Department), July 16, 2012 at http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/new-us-paper-on-chinas-defence-sigint.html ]
(page 22) India
The Indian military is aware of cyber threats and has established several organs to address them, including Defence CERT, the Army Cyber Security Establishment, the Defence Information Warfare Agency, the Cyber Security Laboratory and the Military College of Telecommunication Engineering. The establishment of a Cyber Command has also been announced, although it’s unclear whether this has been implemented. India’s score reflects the Indian Defence Force’s awareness of cyber threats, but also its slow implementation and a lack of stated policy direction for military cyber capabilities.
(page 28) Indonesia
The Indonesian Defence Minister has announced the planned establishment of the Cyber Defence Operations Centre to coordinate national cybersecurity efforts, including service-specific work by the Indonesian military on cybersecurity. The centre is also slated to draft a national doctrine on cybersecurity and conduct implementation strategies across defence and other departments. The creation of a dedicated ‘cyber army’ has also been proposed. The Defence Minister explained that the force would consist of elite membership embedded in the various branches of the Indonesian military to protect domestic networks against cyberattack. It’s unclear what progress has been made on this initiative. This announcement shows that there’s awareness of cyber threats in the Indonesian military, but the response is unclear.
(page 31) Japan
The recent Japanese National Security Strategy clearly outlines Japan’s interests in cyberspace, including means to address current limitations in Japanese cyber capabilities. The Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) Command, Control, Communications and Computer Systems Command is charged with the development of national cyberdefence capabilities. Under the command, the JSDF established a Cyber Defense Unit. The defence force is seen to have the necessary structures in place for cyber operations. The JSDF is working to improve its capability, especially through cooperation with the US, but a shortage of qualified personnel, an inability to respond to attacks, weak capabilities and problems in information sharing within the force remain areas of concern.
(page 34) Malaysia
Reports indicate that the Malaysian Armed Forces have begun to develop capabilities to protect national assets, including from cyber threats, and the Malaysian Defence Minister has publicly supported the development of an ASEAN master plan for Southeast Asia’s cybersecurity. Malaysia’s score reflects an awareness of cyber risks within the armed forces, but is reduced by the lack of clear policy direction for the development of cyber capabilities.
(page 37) Myanmar-Burma
The Defence Services Computer Directorate, under the Army Chief of Staff, encompasses network centric warfare, military-oriented cyber capabilities and electronic warfare. The Army’s military strategy has been expanded to include cyberwarfare as part of ‘people’s war under modern conditions’. Military Affairs Security (formerly the Directorate of Defense Services Intelligence) also possesses a cyber unit, but is more politically focused, carrying out monitoring both domestically and internationally. There are suggestions that the unit’s capability has grown exponentially in recent years with the assistance of other countries in the region. Russia and China have provided training to officers, and Singapore and China have both provided physical infrastructure support.
(page 40) North Korea
The North Korean military is believed to have highly developed cyber capabilities and a well-organised and extensive education and research program to support future operations. Unit 121 is believed to be its primary offensive cyber force; personnel estimates range from 300 to 3,000 people. It’s believed that North Korea’s military has successfully infiltrated South Korean government and private sector systems, but there’s little understanding of the military’s defensive capabilities.
(page 43) PNG
Despite recent attempts to bolster the strength of the PNG Defence Force, which has limited capabilities and resources, cyber issues have traditionally not been a priority for the country. The 2013 Defence White Paper made reference to establishing a defensive ‘Cyber Cell’ to protect a yet to be developed ‘Integrated ICT Network’, but outlined no timelines or implementation strategies. Clear evidence of military cyber policy and capacity in cyber operations remains limited.
(page 46) Philippines
The Armed Forces of the Philippines have created a Security Operation Center with a primarily defensive role, protecting military systems. However, a higher score wasn’t given because it’s unclear to what extent the centre has been implemented.
(page 49) Singapore
The Singaporean Armed Forces have established a Cyber Defence Operations Hub, aimed at protecting domestic military networks. This indicates that there’s an awareness of cyber risks and that work is underway to address them. Singapore’s score would be higher if there were a publicly available Singaporean Armed Forces strategy or policy on how the armed forces will engage with cyber threats.
(page 52) South Korea
South Korea has a capable military cyber capacity. The Defense Information Warfare Response Center of the Defense Security Command protects military networks, while the Cyber Command unit handles wider online security. South Korea has both defensive and offensive capabilities and in February 2014 announced its intention to develop offensive cyber capabilities specifically to target North Korea’s nuclear program. However, recent allegations of military cyber unit interference in national elections reduce the country’s score for this indicator. A new Cyber Defence Department, set to be launched in May 2014, aims to halt these domestic interference issues. The new command is to be established under the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with responsibility for all cyberwarfare missions. It will also include an oversight committee and a whistleblower program.
(page 55) Thailand
The Thai military currently has limited capability and authority on cyber issues, but its leadership has expressed an interest in developing legislation to legalise the operation of a cyber army. Thailand hosted the 2013 USPACOM Cyber Endeavour program, which focused on communications and IT interoperability."
To read the complete ASPI Report see https://www.aspi.org.au/publications/cyber-maturity-in-the-asia-pacific-region-2014/ASPI_cyber_maturity_2014.pdf