The Chinese Cyber Menace: The Register

On Dec. 24th, 2011, John Leyden wrote for the Register about Chinese cyber-espionage.  I'm going to summarize a few of the article's points:

  • The article claims that Chinese cyber-espionage is grounded in a government plan titled Program 863.  Program 863 basically aims to make "Chinese industry financially independent of foreign technology."  However, the program has been used to promote the development of Chinese cyberwar and cyber-espionage capabilities.  In this sense, Program 863 has made Chinese industry independent of foreign technology by…well, stealing foreign technology. 
  • N. Korea is also developing a cyber-expertise similar to the Chinese, but thankfully, the Chinese do not collaborate with other countries.  According to the article, the Chinese view their cyber-capability as "something they are not willing to share."
  • There is apparently a relationship between Chinese criminal hacking groups (some with ties to the Triads) and state-sponsored, patriotic hacking groups (named the Red Hacker Alliance).  The article claims that the Chinese government prefers freelance hackers for "plausible deniability."
  • China is not the only country conducting cyber-espionage against the US, and espionage is not something new.  The internet has just added a new dimension to espionage.

The article ended with a great quote from cyber-expert Marcus Carey: "countries that aren't engaging in espionage aren't trying hard enough!"  I remember that both cyber-expert James Lewis and Gen. Michael Hayden said that the US engages in cyber-espionage, but does not steal industrial secrets.  Accepting those statement as true (which may be naive), should the US steal foreign industrial secrets as a component of its cyber-espionage?  Obviously the official answer is no, and the moral answer is no, and I'm not aware of any relationship between criminal hacking groups and the US government that would facilitate such cyber-espionage.  Yet, as Russia, and China, and even our allies conduct industrial espionage against the US, why are we on our high horse?

The source article can be found here.


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