As we learned in class, cyber hacking is much more prevalent than we ever would have thought. At its most scary/threatening level, hacking can occur on a state-issued level; Professor Sam Ransbotham referenced North Korea as an example of this. This frightening kind of cyber hacking has been attacking the US for years now. A year after President Obama took office, Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, notified the White House that his company had been “infiltrated by the Chinese and was going to announce it.” Numerous public companies then began making these same claims about the Chinese and investigations proved the Chinese were in fact hacking US computers and companies. China denied this, but it was proven that they were guilty. As the former senior US official puts it, “It would be like a wife going to a husband saying, ‘I know you cheated and laying out the photos, the phone bills, and DNA evidence.'” The US caught the Chinese “red-handed.”
Just as Ransbotham asserted it is next to impossible to punish professional hackers in other countries, it is just as hard to punish these state-ordered hackers in China. A secret “démarche,” or formal diplomatic protest, made to the Chinese Government initiated the now on-going conflict. According to the article, these démarches are frequently issued, but this one had “a very particular purpose.” The level of concern is serious. Since then, the US has assessed the following actions to take: formal prosecutions against individual hackers, requesting involvement from other countries, world trade organization legislation, counteract with cyber offense or defense, trade sanctions, and diplomatic pressure. While the US is beginning to step up its deterrents, officials are still skeptical that China will stop. China is “building up their key industries” using the information they receive from the attacks. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel classified the attacks as “the greatest threat to our security—economic security, political security, diplomatic security, military security—that confronts us.”
Before the hacking became so alarming, the US refrained from confronting China. Officials worried that inflaming conflict could hurt national security or adversely affect business interests. Administration officials saw the decision to act as “evidence that U.S. businesses were now more concerned about the harmful impact of hacking than offending China, and that they wanted the administration to take action.” In other words, businesses had no choice but to stand up and take action. In class, we learned that most hacks are not worth seeking out the individuals and punishing them. However, when classified information is compromised, something must be done. I found this story interesting because it relates to the example where the online gambling company continued to pay hackers, encouraging them more. The US let the hacking go on at first and was still slow to take any kind of action against this injustice when it became more serious, encouraging this kind of behavior. China was being rewarded while taking almost no risk.
What I find most interesting about this article, as scary as it may be, is how a government can use a computer just like the one I am typing on now to steal information, ideas, etc. It truly makes the world a scarier place. However, to mention the double-edged sword aspect of technology, it also allows for a sharing of information, ideas, etc. that was never possible, and even unthinkable before computers. I find it shameful that this wonderful resource is misused. Something so great and transforming is tainted by the hands and orders of those who fail to use these resources for good.
Given what has happened/is happening: What do you think the US should do?
Here is the article for further reference: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324345804578424741315433114.html?mg=id-wsj