China: Hey, we’re cyber-victims too
The Chinese government apparently wants in on the cyber pity party that American governments and corporations have been throwing themselves for the past few years. Beijing reported this week that it endured half a million cyber-attacks last year, and here’s something else that’s interesting: “Almost half originated overseas,” according to this report, which goes on to describe them this way:
The vast majority of the attacks a Chinese monitoring agency reported were in the form of Trojan horse malware that installs on computers, allowing them to monitor usage and access personal information. Of those Trojan horse attacks, 14.7 percent of those were traced to IP addresses in the United States and 8 percent in India.
So this isn’t a situation, at least according to these findings, in which DoD, NSA, and the rest of the alphabet cyber-soup is matching China’s hacker factories blow for blow in the ongoing cyber war. More than half the cyber-attacks Beijing is complaining about came from within its own borders, a fact that raises some big questions:
• Could this mean America’s cyber-operatives are such digital ninjas they can make their surveillance, attacks or other online mischief appear as though it is coming from computers inside China? Could part of America’s cyber-operations actually be running on computers in China, plugged into the local networks and blending in with the rest of the local traffic? It seems far-fetched, given how rigidly China controls its own networks, but in the cyber-world, up is down and black is white.
• Could this mean some of China’s own home-grown cyber-operatives have gone rogue? There’s a narrative among some China-watchers that Beijing, having trained legions of state-backed hackers, may have created a contagion it can only control for so long. At some point, the theory goes, enough Chinese internet users will become expert enough that they’ll be able to rebel against the state’s restrictions. If more than 250,000 cyber-attacks last year came from within China itself — again, taking that number and this report at face value — it could suggest the country’s biggest cyber-worry is homegrown.
• What is the point of the cyber-victimhood strategy? As we’ve observed before, there is often no predicate when U.S. government or corporate officials do the Italian soccer diva dive and roll around on the field, moaning about how they’re so unprepared and how those mean ol’ bad guys are always stealing their secrets. Sometimes they ask for more funding for cyber-matters, but not always. Is it to continually control the public’s expectations if there’s a scandal involving the loss of confidential information? Whatever the reason, now China is doing it.
There may be no way for us open-source normies to get any of these answers. What do you make of it all?