The US has said China Telecom, the state-owned telecommunications operator, had 'hijacked' 15 per cent of the world's internet traffic, including sensitive encrypted data from the US senate, the department of defence and NASA, in April this year, a charge hotly denied by the Chinese authorities.
Data was sent through its own servers for 18 minutes in April, and during that time China could see and store everything that came through.
It raises concerns about online security and highlights the new frontier in national security, with countries competing to control digital information.
The US military now has a fully operational cyber command but there are moves to co-ordinate such policies with other countries.
Earlier this year Russia proposed a cyber security treaty to the United Nations. Is Cyberspace now the fifth battlefront? How can countries protect their classified documents?Inside Story discusses with guests: Kevin Anderson, a technology journalist; Dave Clemente, a researcher with the International Security Programme at Chatham House; and Rik Ferguson, a senior security advisor at Trend Micro.This episode of Inside Story aired on Friday, November 19, 2010.