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  • Aug 29, 2014
  • Updated: 1:41pm
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 A dubious report by commercial internet security firm Mandiant - which was not peer-reviewed by any independent experts - and which has generated so much free publicity for them by accusing China of being the world's worst cyber-rogue state.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

honkiepanky
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.
whymak
I am going to confuse you with some facts. Why is Iran, a developing country, such a deadly enemy to the US, the unprecedented hyperpower in history?
In 1953, Iranians elected Mohammed Mossadegh to head their government. But BP and CIA couldn’t countenance a nationalist who might strip away oil interests of the West. They staged a coupe that overthrew Mossadegh and had him locked away. Reza Pahlavi was then installed as the absolute monarch, who proceeded to spend Iran’s oil wealth on US armaments and impoverished his people.
The 1979 revolution brought the cleric Ayatollah Komeini to power. America couldn’t stand for it. Under the Reagan-Saddam Hussein alliance, Richard Cheney supported Saddam’s eight-year war against Iran with military aid and war materiel, including chemicals needed for manufacturing weapons of mass destruction. 800,000 Iranians perished, with mustard gas claiming countless Iranian victims.
Who has the right to hate the other, the US or Iran? Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most evil of them all?
In ideological disputes, lies are convenient, but not facts.
blue
What exactly are your credentials? Are you shilling for Mandiant? In another post you compared Mandiant's link bait report to a computer science paper. You're either an idiot or a corporate shill.
FYI Mandiant's founder Kevin Mandia is an ex-military cyber-forensics investigator.
No matter how good Mandiant's computer forensics is, any sophisticated hacker can cover their tracks if needed. Mandiant knows this. But instead, they'd rather create a sensational report that gives them free publicity ahead of their rumored IPO plans.
If this report really is so iron clad, it should be opened up to peer review!
honkiepanky
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.
blue
He wrote "especially those pseudo scientific papers written for idiots that could never pass muster of refereed journals in computer science.". He's clearly referring to Mandiant's paper as pseudo scientific. Though you're right that comparing a paper on computer security with a computer science paper is really apples and oranges.
Also I personally don't consider the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal (owned by News corp now) to be all that credible; Tesla Motors certainly doesn't feel that a New York Times reporter was very honest when reviewing their new electric car.
Source: ****www.wired.com/autopia/2013/02/tesla-logs-nytimes/
whymak
Mr. Lo, everything you said makes sense, especially those pseudo scientific papers written for idiots that could never pass muster of refereed journals in computer science.
A reader says, "Dozens if not hundreds of interviews were conducted with people in the US government and private sector who were the victims of these attacks or who were tasked to stop them." He is just as moronic as Hong Kong nitwits who insisted hundreds of students died in Tiananmen because "everyone" said so. Millions and millions said Jesus arose from the dead after 3 days. I suppose that is now a scientific fact.
"Israel and probably the US commited an act of cyber warfare to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon." Right. Who was the enemy with nuclear aspirations when Israel stole at least two shipments of enriched uranium from the US to build its first nuclear devices? Why did Israel attack USS Liberty and kill 33 sailors to hide its initiation of a full attack on Egypt, and later Jordan and Syrian? Where are **** (Richard) Cheney's alleged yellow cake and WMDs?
I suppose both Israel and the US had to avert an "act of war," another word for Lebensraum for Israel at the Arab's expense.
War criminals, or for that matter, people supporting war crimes against humanity, always have their excuses.
honkiepanky
Have you (or Mr. Lo) ever actually read a refereed computer science journal paper? Here's a tip: they address research into the mathematics and techniques of computer science, not questions of who hacked whom.
whymak
Indeed I had in my R&D days before I became a professional manager. As a matter of fact, I am still working unsuccessfully on an algorithm right this minute after a few passes. And that's just all for fun. So eat your heart out, my friend.
No, I have never taken a single course in computer science but had designed a commercial CPU with pipeline architecture as well as the entire instruction set for the microcontroller store in the CPU. Comprende? Verstehen Sie? Now are you satisfied?
The trouble with ignorant China baiters is their own tunnel vision, 坐井觀天.
Elsewhere in this column I just responded to another reader related to Ken Thompson's talk on rootkit malware. But I don't suppose you know who Ken Thompson is or what programmable logic controller rootkit means.
Now you can go back and wallow in your hate China diatribes.
chauhy
Oh when a beggar come along asking for money, you either give him a few nickles or run away, you do not reason with him whether or not you should give him money
whymak
I ought to learn from you how to be kind to beggars. I still have this vestigial habit from my corporate days, i.e., throwing pearls before swine (empty suits).

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