China’s Cyber Thievery Is National Policy—And Must Be Challenged: WSJ

Wow.  Just wow. 

On Jan. 27th, 2012, Mike McConnell, Michael Chertoff, and William Lynn co-authored an Op-Ed for the Wall Street Journal on Chinese cyber-espionage.  If you don't recognize the authors, it's a veritable all-star team of US national security figures:  Adm. McConnell was the former director of the NSA and director of national intelligence; Mr. Lynn was the deputy secretary of defense and undersecretary of defense; and Mr. Chertoff was the former secretary of DHS.  This WSJ op-ed was just . . . stunning.

The authors open with the following line:  "Only three months ago, we would have violated U.S. secrecy laws by sharing what we write here."  When you read that, you know what follows will probably be good.

The authors go on to discuss the pervasive level of Chinese cyber-espionage and note that "the Chinese government has a national policy of economic espionage in cyberspace."  Noting the previous ONCIX report and various other reports on Chinese cyber-espionage, the authors believe that China wants to build its economy entirely through intellectual property theft.  This, of course, leads to a corresponding "catastrophic impact" on the US economy. 

Interestingly, the authors believe that the threat of Chinese cyber-espionage "looms even more ominously" than threats like cyber-attacks against critical infrastructure and cyber-terrorism in general

The authors offered several solutions for stopping Chinese cyber-espionage: respond through diplomatic and economic channels; force the private sector to share threat information through cybersecurity legislation; invest in science and math education; and ensure that Corporate America does more to report incidents of cyber-espionage.  

The authors conclude by noting that China will take a center stage during the election year. 

You can find the Wall Street Journal source article here.  Definitely worth a read.

***

This article really caught my eye for several reasons.

First, the authors: these men were top US national security officials, so their thoughts on this topic are especially significant.  These men, expressing these views, in a prominent US newspaper, has to send a strong message.  The US simply can't ignore Chinese cyber-espionage any longer.  I'm really excited to see how the Chinese respond to this.  $10 says it's something along the lines of "China is a victim of cyber-attacks." 

Second, the argument that Chinese cyber-espionage "looms even more ominously" than cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure and cyber-terrorism.  Now, I don't know what the authors meant by "looms even more ominously"; does it mean that the threat of cyber-espionage is more likely than a cyber-attack on critical infrastrucure (which I think we all would agree with), or does it mean that cyber-espionage has a bigger overall effect than a cyber-attack on critical infrastrucure?  If it's the second idea, that's pretty interesting.  In effect, would the combined effects of cyber-espionage have a larger impact on the US than the electric grid failing?  Maybe so.

Third, the recommendations for action.  The authors said that the US government should "respond" to cyber-espionage through diplomatic channels.  Moreover, China (and perhaps that response) will take on special signifigance during this election year.  Not to toot my own horn, but does any of that sound familiar?  Will the Obama administration confront China? 

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Authors

Untitled Document
Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. She is the 2018-9 Editor in Chief of the Syracuse Law Review, as well as a member of the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography

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