News Summary: US talks cyberhacking with Chinese
UNPRODUCTIVE TALKS: U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta repeatedly raised the issue of aggressive cyberattacks against American companies and the government during meetings with Chinese military and civilian leaders, but left with little more than agreements to talk again.
BIG THREAT: Panetta has warned that cyberattacks and cyberwarfare could set off the next war, although experts say the main threats are intelligence espionage and theft of corporate and high-tech data. A key concern is an attack against critical infrastructure, including the electric grid, power plants or financial networks, that could plunge the U.S. into crisis.
DENIALS: Chinese officials have denied the cyberattacks, saying they also are victims. But the U.S. has accused China of systematically stealing American high-tech data for its own economic gain. U.S. officials and security experts say government and private industry systems are constantly being probed, breached and attacked, in particular critical oil, gas and energy companies.