Friday, January 15, 2010

More on the Great Cyberattack of 2010

There has been some print coverage of the Chinese Cyber-9/11, especially in the SF Chronicle, the New York Times and the WaPo, but still precious little in other media and not much at all in the blogosphere. Darpa has identified the lack of computer science degrees being produced in the U.S. as not just an economic problem with a national security issue. The same is true of public awareness or lack thereof of the links between technology, innovation and economics, and at no time could this be more obvious. This has aspects of Sputnik and Pearl Harbor. Historians will refer to this as a watershed moment - and what are the American people doing? In what way are we holding our elected leaders accountable?

The Chronicle published a good timeline of Chinese cyberwarfare developments. Other American firms have stepped forward to announce that they've been attacked and that they're aligned with Google, like Yahoo, which extends the hope that now the Google has set the example, other Western companies will follow suit.

What's really curious is that just yesterday, out of 8 lead articles on the Yahoo main news page, 3 were about China, and one of them was an essentially undigested press release from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce that everything is just fine, and Western companies should ignore all these scandalous stories of the Chinese government attacking them even while it forces them to bend to its oppressive laws and restricts their operations while it can develop native industries. Indeed, the damage control efforts at MiniCom have been both rapid and Orwellian: "China's foreign ministry issued a statement on Thursday saying the Internet in China is open, and companies that follow China's laws are welcomed." War is peace! Freedom is slavery! Or how about the ominous "China will still strictly adopt a policy of openness and offer a good investment environment." One plus one is five! Western firms, wake up: this is a game that's been set up for you to lose. (Note: originally one of those links went to a Chinese news site with a .cn domain. I changed the link to Yahoo for reader safety, and I didn't do it just to be cute.)
A lot has been made of the sophistication of the attacks, but the targeting is anything but subtle. In this case a dotcom retained a U.S. law firm to sue China for (what else) stealing code. Soon enough they were under attack. Come on, China. Even Gotti was more subtle than this. That was just this past Monday, four days ago. Apparently no fish is too small to escape notice of the Red Cyber Army. (If you wonder why I use a pseudonym on this blog, there you are. And do I wonder whether that's enough? You bet.)

For now, I'm pissed enough that next week I'll be looking at my IRA allocations to make sure none of it is allocated to Chinese investments - no, pulling my savings out won't do anything, but I don't have to be party to building this regime's infrastructure for them even if everyone else is - but in any event the United States has been running up a monster debt since 2001, and China's financing it.

I think everyone has had enough of China's "strict policy of openness", especially its citizens. Unless China doesn't think that it's ready for elections and free speech, now is the time for a real policy of openness. Let's hope more companies follow Google's example and that this spurs change at the level of the Chinese people. As I often lament, there seems to be no encouragement from American conservatives.

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