US: Back off China, or Else

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.”

China Hacking

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:


7 thoughts on “US: Back off China, or Else

  1. Although many of us have the idealized notion that the U.S. is on the cutting edge and the leader of technology in the world, it is an intimidating realization that many others in the world are catching up if not already ahead of us. Because of this, I feel that taking action against China may just backfire because we underestimate them. If the problem ever seriously compromised secure information, that would be a whole other concern, but from what your article states, it seems like the current hacking is harmless. It is frightening that our country is, essentially, “under attack”—yet it is through nothing but technology. As of now, this gives incentive to our country’s workforce in the field of computer science to innovate and improve security measures.

  2. I really liked this blog post because it was well written and used good pictures, video, and polls to further prove the point of the article. I believe the US should take this issue seriously because of the potential information China could obtain if this continue to happen. I agree with Katie that is is very scary that other countries can hack into our country’s information. While I believe the US must handle China very cautiously as to not create to much of a strain in the relationship, the US needs to send a clear message that this will not be tolerated. The potential consequences are too great.

  3. I found the parallel you drew between this case and the class example of extortion of the casino very interesting. In that situation, the casino did not choose to respond until it realized that the at some point, if the extortionist continues to ask for for money, it is cheaper to just address the problem instead of pay off the extortionist. Clearly, US companies have reached this same point.

    I think the action that our government is taking is on target, as it aims to change the incentives involved. China’s ROI to hack into US companies to gain an advantage is only worth the investment if the US is not going to respond. If the US government can establish some sort of punishment for this type activity, the risk associated with hacking will increase. Hopefully, the punishment will be severe enough to deter China by making the ROI not worth the original investment.

  4. In the poll, I voted that the U.S. should take action against the Chinese government. As far as I’m concerned, this is the closest China could get to waging war against the U.S. without dropping a bomb. They are using their information to build up their own industries at our expense. It is an economic war that they are winning because we’re trying to play defense. Therefore, I think the U.S. is right to alert China that is aware of the problem and demand the hacking be stopped. We have the right to protect ourselves and enough evidence to show that it is in fact attacks coming from China. Therefore, if China does not stop their attacks, I believe the U.S. has the right to take action.
    I think you composed this blog very well. The video was incredibly insightful and the visual helped break up the text. Also, the blog is a cool feature. Nice job.

  5. This was a very good post. You explained the topic of the hacking conflict between China and the United States very well. I had not heard about this so it was helpful. I agree with the previous post that the US should take action against China. This is a crime that could cause very serious problems for American companies. These companies operate all around the world and attacking them could cause some trouble. By not taking any action, the US is suggesting that it is okay for foreign countries to steal classified information from these companies, which could lead us down a very dangerous road.

  6. I feel like the American superiority complex is at work here once again. There is a general assumption that people tend to only hack the websites of companies that are based in US, but I don’t believe this is the case. I believe a lot of countries are dealing with cyber crime like this but would not point fingers at others. Yes, China possibly may be hiring hackers to do this; what say that US companies are not doing the same thing? I believe it is more important to increase the security of the companies’ network rather than pointing fingers.

  7. Excellent post, I was interested in this topic when it hit the news at the time. While the US may have the world’s biggest economy and an army that is unmatched, technology has leveled the playing field. With very little capital investment, a foreign enemy can do serious damage with a computer. When entire cities run on electrical grids controlled by one company, it is a great possibility that an enemy could work to take an entire city off its electrical grid. Hopefully the proactive conversations the US is having with China prevents anything that serious.

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