Thief crying 'Stop thief'

By Zhao Jinglun
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, February 23, 2013
Adjust font size:

Barely a week after President Barack Obama announced in his State of the Union message that he had signed an executive order to "strengthen our cyber defenses," Washington accused Beijing of hacking into the computers of American companies and other organizations, and even pin pointed to a Shanghai building that houses PLA Unit 61398 as the source of cyber attack.

The accusation was solely based on a report by a private cyber security firm Mandiant that offered the flimsiest "evidence." For instance, it claimed that the intruder used a Shanghai phone number to register an e-mail account. But that proves absolutely nothing. So are all the other evidence offered by Mandiant.

Analysts point out that "cyber-security" is not a science, but an industry: That is, the entities issuing alarming reports of those lurking threats are for profit mainly if not exclusively concerned with selling a product. So Mandiant is talking with the New York Times, a self-proclaimed victim, for a contract to protect the latter's computers.

As Jeffrey Carr, founder of a cyber security firm and author of Inside Cyber Warfare, points out: "It's good business to blame China. I know from experience that many corporations, government and DOD organizations are more eager to buy cyber threat data that claims to focus on the PRC than any other nation state. When the cyber security industry issues PRC-centric reports like this one without performing any alternative analysis of the collected data, and when the readership of these reports are government and corporate officials without the depth of knowledge to critically analyze what they're reading,…we wind up being in the position that we're in today—easily fooled into looking in one direction when we have an entire threat landscape left unattended."

More than thirty nations are currently running "military-grade operations," as Carr noted. And there are non-state actors such as criminal gangs that also launch cyber attacks. And the U.S. chose to pick on China.

Both the PLA and China's Foreign Ministry have denied the accusation and stated that in fact China has been the victim of cyber attacks, and most of the attacks originated in the United States. According to Qian Xiaoqian, vice minister of the State Council Information Office, 4.5 million PCs in the country had been attacked by Trojan viruses from IPs abroad in 2010, an increase of more than sixteen times from 2009. China opposes any kind of hacker attacks and cyberspace armament race. During the fifth U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum in Washington on December 7 and 8, 2011, China proposed an opposition to any internet war or cyber armament race.

The U.S. is the only country that has a Cyber Command led by Gen. Keith Alexander. U.S. Department of Defense is reportedly to have been busily revamping its current cyber-warfare capabilities and steadily building up its cadre of cyber warriors. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta himself acknowledged U.S. has the capacity to wage offensive cyber warfare.

According to Time Magazine, U.S. officials don't like to acknowledge that the Pentagon is hard at work developing an offensive cyber capability. In fact it has begun using that capability to wage war. Beyond shutting down enemy systems, the U.S. military is crafting a witch's brew of stealth, manipulation and falsehoods designed to lure the enemy into believing he is in charge of his forces when in fact they have been secretly enlisted as allies of the U.S. military.

Time says the U.S. Air Force wants the ability to burrow into any computer system anywhere in the world. And the U.S. cyber warriors' goal is to "complete functional capabilities" of an enemy's computer network – from U.S. military keyboards. The magazine quotes William Owens, a retired admiral and cyber expert, "I have no doubt we're doing some very profoundly sophisticated thing on the attack side."

So the thief needs to cry "Stop thief!" so as to divert attention away from its own cyber war ambitions.

The author is a columnist with For more information please visit:

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from