Pulitzer Prize-winning author Sheryl WuDunn warned financial, political and world affairs executives Tuesday that China’s security threat to the U.S. is through cyberwarfare.
WuDunn said hackers can take down websites “and paralyze systems around the world.”
“The growing threat of cyber-attacks is the greatest threat,” she said.
“Who is doing this in China and why, we don’t know,” WuDunn told members of the World Affairs Council of Jacksonville and The Gate Governors Club.
Calling the risk a “digital bomb,” WuDunn asked whether the United States has a response to such attacks.
“How would we avoid a cyberwar?” she asked, or prevent one.
WuDunn said that one-quarter of all cyber-attacks originate in China and that 500 million Chinese were online by the end of 2011.
“It is the No. 1 online market. That has great implications,” she said.
WuDunn’s luncheon presentation, attended by 145 members of the council and club, was “China: An Economic Outlook.” Her “Global Issues Evening” presentation at the University of North Florida University Center was “The China Challenge.”
WuDunn said at the noon event that the relationship between the United States and China is the most important bilateral relationship on the planet.
“We need to understand China more,” she said.
WuDunn said that while China is not the only country to launch “these espionage activities,” it is one to watch closely.
WuDunn explained that cyber-attacks are easier and cheaper than conventional military warfare. Such attacks can cripple power systems, satellites and other functions of society.
WuDunn is an author, investment banker, business executive and lecturer. She is a senior managing director at Mid-Market Securities in New York.
She previously worked at The New York Times as an executive, a journalist and as a foreign correspondent in Tokyo and Beijing.
WuDunn co-authored the best-seller “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.”
She and her husband, Nicholas Kristof, have co-authored two other best-sellers about Asia, “Thunder from the East” and “China Wakes.”