Chinese hackers and the “The New Digital Age” by Google boss Eric Schmidt

Chinese hackers and the “The New Digital Age” by Google boss Eric Schmidt

Henry Dalziel | Book Reviews | February 5, 2013

Google boss Schmidt is launching his book “The New Digital Age” April 2013. From what we understand here at Concise it makes pretty unsettling reading. Quote, “China [is] the world’s most active and enthusiastic filterer of information“.

It seems that not a day goes by without the US or indeed any western nation accusing China of hacking government and corporate organizations. This subject is certainly not new to us, we have hosted several excellent Hacker Hotshot web shows on the subject such as “Identifying Cyber Warriors” and “Hacking as an Act of War!” both given by highly qualified information security experts.

So, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt isn’t a fan of the Chinese evidently. It will be interesting to see whether this has any impact on Google China. Our understanding is that Google remains the second most popular search platform after Baidu, and typically the Chinese can orchestrate mass-demonstrations against foreign owned corporations with good effect (a good example is China’s dispute with Japan over the the Senkaku Islands with the Chinese boycotting Japanese products for the last six months resulting in a substantial loss of exporting revenue for Japan).

It seems that Schmidt has based a lot of his content on the history of China with regards to hacking. Here are a few examples:

(These are all allegations of course!)

1. In 2007 the US Pentagon claimed that it was hacked by the Chinese military in 2007 (the first time a major acknowledgement has been issued).
2. China was behind a series of coordinated cyber attacks between 2005 and 2011 aimed at major organizations such as the International Olympic Committee and the UN.
3. In 2009, Coca-cola claims that its computer networks were breached by Beijing-backed hackers, while it was trying to buy China’s Huiyuan Juice Group.
4. In 2011, Google stated that Chinese hackers from Jinan province had cracked into their gmail accounts of hundreds of top US officials, military personnel and journalists.
5. In 2011, NASA claims that computer traced back to China had seized “full functional control.”
6. In 2011, Lockheed Martin claims that again, Chinese-based hackers, had launched several cyber attacks.
7. In 2012, South Korea accused Chinese hackers for hacking 35 million accounts on a popular social network called Cyworld.
8. In 2013, the Wall Street Journal claimed that their computer systems and networks had been hacked – targeting WSJ employees whom were reporting on China.
9. In 2013, the New York Times also claims to have been hacked.

Now, this list is not complete and they are all allegations! China says hacking is illegal under their laws and that they are themselves victims of cyber attacks. That is actually probably not far from the truth – I mean, we really are in a state of Cyber War right? Think about is – Stuxnet, Stuxnet 2 and Flame!? Surely an action like that, which was widely believed to be orchestrated by Israel and the US, will merit retribution? Just saying….

The “theft” of intellectual property at the corporate level does clearly give the hackers and their sponsor an unfair competitive advantage. Think about it. All that R&D that the west has accumulated over the years (including the Japanese) can be extracted with a sophisticated social engineered hack or just a good old system vulnerable scan and exploit. In Schmidt’s own words: “The disparity between American and Chinese firms and their tactics will put both the government and the companies of the United States at a distinct disadvantage.”

“The New Digital Age” looks like a great read so go get it! Let us know your comments below.

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