My Take

America's two-faced tirade against Chinese 'cyberwar'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2013, 3:21am

Hey, kettle. It's pot here, calling to denounce you with evidence you are undermining world peace.

The Obama administration is planning to confront the new leadership in Beijing, according to The New York Times, over the cyberwarfare that the Chinese state is allegedly waging against America and its top corporations.

The evidence? A dubious report by commercial internet security firm Mandiant - which was not peer-reviewed by any independent experts - and which has generated so much free publicity for them by accusing China of being the world's worst cyber-rogue state.

According to the company and now the White House, almost every item on a lengthy, confidential list of IP addresses - linked to a hacking group that has stolen terabytes of data from US corporations - could be traced to a neighbourhood in Shanghai that hosts the Chinese military's cybercommand. Even Hong Kong's own University of Science and Technology reportedly had a few addresses on the list.

These attacks were presented as sophisticated and state-sponsored. But how sophisticated?

Strangely, these master hackers from China all forgot to hide their internet traces. In fact, they did the opposite: they left their fingerprints all over the crime scene so it could all be traced back to a single People's Liberation Army source in Shanghai! Just how smart could these guys be?

Or perhaps they weren't the real perpetrators. Presumably, any self-respecting hacker or cybercriminal worth his salt would plant false leads and hide tracks so his crime can't be traced back to him. Who would leave behind a long list of IP addresses to implicate himself and pinpoint his location to a single postal address?

To date, the only confirmed act of state-sponsored cyberwarfare has been by the United States and its closest ally, Israel, against Iran's nuclear weapons programme.

Like nuclear weapons (with the Soviets) and weapons of mass destruction (with Iraq), an enemy is needed before Washington can legitimise the development of new military capability or go to war … or launch drone assassinations - oh, sorry, I meant targeted killings - that have caused thousands of deaths, many of them innocent bystanders, in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia.

Which is the rogue state?