• Wed
  • Nov 26, 2014
  • Updated: 2:41pm
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 A dubious report by commercial internet security firm Mandiant - which was not peer-reviewed by any independent experts - and which has generated so much free publicity for them by accusing China of being the world's worst cyber-rogue state.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

blue
I have. It's basically impossible to tell the difference between a direct attack and a attack via proxy if the proxy server is configured not to report itself. Therefore, there is plenty of reasonable doubt in Mandiant's report. But Mandiant knows that they do not need to prove guilt without a reasonable doubt to get the media, US government, and American public to side with them.
wang.feng
Posting comment on behalf of reader whymak
"A reader asked: “Have you (or Mr. Lo) ever actually read a refereed computer science journal paper?” Thanks for your condescending comment.
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 very 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 microcode control store in the CPU. Here is the meaning of this gibberish. I wrote the microcode implementing my assembly language instruction set for the computer’s 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."
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.
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.
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.
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).
blue
Sorry but I have to laugh. You're seriously comparing Mandiant's report to a computer science paper with a straight face?
honkiepanky
Umm, no. Go re-read please.
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.
docomo
Well, nothing refutes baseless accusations like more baseless accusations. - Agreed.
But unlike your article, the report was the result of years of research- The Mandiant report is ANNUALl report that also serves as a marketing tool for the company.
Dozens if not hundreds of interviews were conducted with people in the US government and private sector who were the victims of these attacks - 'Interviews' are hardly what one would consider gold standard research methodology; since many of your countrymen have a propensity to whack the China bogeyman.
Israel and probably the US commited an act of cyber warfare to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and, it should be noted, avert an actual act of war which was the alternative - Whatever rock your balls, as we in Asia say. Or whatever Fox News tells you.
Hackers inside China have been stealing intellectual property and military information from the US - The US has been involved in international espionage since the Cold War. What are its measures to guard its own territory against the own home-bred Anonymous, when 'blame the chinamen' ceased to work?

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