The U.S. for the first time is publicly warning about the Chinese military’s use of civilian computer experts in clandestine cyber attacks aimed at American companies and government agencies. In a move that is being seen as a pointed signal to Beijing, the Pentagon laid out its concerns this week in a carefully worded report. The People’s Liberation Army, the Pentagon said, is using “information warfare units” to develop viruses to attack enemy computer systems and networks, and those units include civilian computer professionals. The assertion shines a light on a quandary that has troubled American authorities for some time: How does the U.S. deal with cyber espionage emanating from China and almost certainly directed by the government — despite the fact that U.S. officials don’t have or can’t show proof of those ties? Asked about the civilian hackers, a Defense Department spokesman said the Pentagon is concerned about any potential threat to its computer networks. The Pentagon, said a spokesman will monitor the PLA’s buildup of its cyberwarfare capabilities, and “will continue to develop capabilities to counter any potential threat.”Security Magazine Bloggers can get the full report.