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  • Dec 24, 2014
  • Updated: 7:54pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2013, 3:21am

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

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 A dubious report by commercial internet security firm Mandiant - which was not peer-reviewed by any independent experts - and which has generated so much free publicity for them by accusing China of being the world's worst cyber-rogue state.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


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This article is now closed to comments

Alex got several things right in the article including the fact that the report by Mandiant was not peer reviewed and have in fact done quite the opposite by keeping a list of ip addresses confidential. Alex is also right about the state sponsored cyber warfare that the US did against Iran. Alex is referring to the stuxnet computer worm that was designed to shut down Iran's powerplant.
Also as someone who has some knowledge about IT, I can also confirm that it would be very easy for a hacker to bounce their connection off a bunch of proxies in China to make everything appear as if it originated from China.
Accusing Alex of being a CCP stooge just because you're a thin skinned American is really low. Reality check: Not everything America does is ethical. In fact America rarely respects the sovereignty of other nations; America's use of drones in violation of Pakistan's airspace to murder people without any due process is one of many examples.
Also your whining about China stealing intellectual property from the US is rich considering the level of espionage the CIA engages in to spy on China as well as the rest of the world.
Is this article a joke? Does Alex really believe he knows computer security better than Mandiant (the most respected firm in the industry)? Perhaps the hackers should have been more careful, but the fact is they were not, and they were caught.
The fact that the U.S. has done things that Alex doesn't agree with to hostile countries like Iran is neither here nor there. It is irrelevant to the hacking accusations at hand, which are primarily a case of corporate espionage and bring into question what little trust there is between China and the U.S. in the economic sphere.
Alex, for a normally rational person you have a real chip on the shoulder about America. Every time a story reflects badly on China or Chinese you react by pointing the finger elsewhere as if someone else's misbehaviour whitewashes China's conduct or makes it ok. Well, it doesn't. Look in the mirror for once, or can you not bear the idea of your nation or race losing face?
Is there anything more futile than a playground-style, "my superpower is more moral than your superpower" argument? Alex's piece looks like a knee-jerk reaction which is based, not on the actual report, but on press reports of it. His point as regards hacking seems to be, "well you started it." He's right to criticise the US use of drones, but fails to mention that China is not far from using them itself, as discussed in Gerg Torode's piece.
I usually enjoy Alex Lo's columns; heck I even agree with some of them. But this one is pretty silly.
pls take it easy on alex. he is just following orders from his new commie editor. gotta kiss china's a$$. the owners of the scmp have a lot of business interests in china. who knows, maybe they will sell the paper to xinhua and then alex can point to his patriotic pieces over the years. sad.
Marc Vo
CTO for Oinfosys inc. in San Francisco Ca.
I would like to congratulate you on your article.
Although it is an Opinion Piece. You have motivated me to respond.
My organizations Core business is technology research specializing in leap frogging technologies.
Let me first give you my email address Marc@oinfosys.com
My team of technology researchers and myself is available to you.
Please contact me anytime.
Your pieces contains no facts at all. The I.T. industry Norm for peer reviewed is to release the data and Industry leaders and experts from all over the world will Flame you if you are wrong.
As an american I am offended. I assume that you believe your reader to be only from Asia.
Let me clear that up right now.
The South China Morning Post has a global audience.
Your statement " The evidence? A dubious report by commercial internet security firm Mandiant "
I applaude Mandiant for their courage to stand by their work and put their expertise
on the net for all to see and review.
IMO Mandiant's goal is to create a dialog between our two Economies.
To address the elephant in the room and invent a forum for containing
the corporate interllectual property robbery.
I will be posting this to my readers on Google Plus and Linkedin.com
Looking forward to speaking with you.
Cheers, Marc
I am the poster of the condescending comment in question, which seems to have gone over your head. Not sure why you think jargon and name dropping (and yes, I do have the credentials to understand perfectly well - I have read as well as published computer science papers) are going to impress anyone.
Dude, where's my motive? You seem to have gotten lost along the way to figuring out why exactly the US government would send a private company to do a slightly amusing job of Google-search-as-white-paper as political smear. What, it's not enough grounds for Washington to get snotty with Beijing when some large majority of PCs in China are running pirated Windows among other software? Quick, how many blocks from Huaihai Zhonglu in the middle of Shanghai do you have to walk to find hundreds of pirated DVDs? Uh, zero point five at most. There is already plenty of easily obtainable evidence that the Chinese government abets IP theft from the US. There is every reason to assume that Beijing still follows Sun Tzu's precepts and has at least tried to ramp up its cyber-espionage/warfare capabilities given how much China's potential adversaries will have invested in such. Why do you make it out to be such a stretch from one point on this continuum to the next? Why slog the muddy path of moral equivalence? Slow news day I guess...
When you label anyone who disagrees with your peculiarly bigoted views "a moron" you immediately shed any credibility you might have had. China makes no secret of its intention to use drones. ****defensetech.org/2012/09/24/china-seeks-drones-to-monitor-islands/
So you're factually wrong and abusive. Good work.
You need to go back and re-read the comment I was responding to. It was whymak who brought up "referreed journals in computer science", which is an irrelevant standard to compare Mandiant's paper to.
The Wall Street Journal and New York Times have put their credibility behind Mandiant's research. Their articles contain plenty of corroborating evidence. I realize that no amount of evidence is ever going to convince the "patriots" here, but the rest of the world doesn't find China's denials credible in the least.




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