Last week I was asked by the host of China’s English news radio station in Beijing what I thought of the New York Times/Mandiant bit.
I’d been on the station last year to talk about cyberwar and cybersecurity as part of an international panel. Yes, I talked with the enemy.
From China: Wondering what you’d comment on the [NYT/Mandiant] report.
One author [link below] says the Mandiant report on PLA is unconvincing and the timing of the report is too convenient.
Me: Yes, it’s convenient and self-serving. It was timed to maximize the current attempt to conflate espionage, which is real but longstanding, with cyberwar. [Mandiant's] not the only company to do it. And it’s not surprising given the fact … the sequester budget knife may wind up cutting contractor cybersecurity and cyberintelligence business with the Pentagon.
The attached piece said everything I would have.
Chinese reply: To be realistic, both China and US have strong interest in cyber espionage or cyber war. But I think the US enjoys an absolute technology advantage, given the fact of the US being the center of technological innovation.
China, despite all its problems, is a sensible player in international relations. It’s impossible to imagine they are that reckless as to have an army unit working in the Shanghai building attack institutions in Washington.
Whatever, China has a concerted espionage espionage campaign, longstanding, against the US.
What’s the value? There’s the crux of it, which I wrote about a week ago.
Everyone has been propagandized on the miracles and potentials of cyberwar for so long it’s unsurprising that others want to be into our things, daily, and vice versa.
But this case, even by the low standards of shoeshine, was egregious.
If you needed proof on how self-serving it was you needed only go here, to the New York Times-manufactured discussion on the matter.
Cyberwar, defined and declared by a handful of mostly private sector shoeshiners, people you’ve never heard of, our analysts and business people who depend on it. All in a few paragraphs. Have a cup of coffee and a pack of butterscotch krimpets while you read through.
The only name from way back was Martin Libicki of Rand, who’s always been a critical thinker, unusual in the venue, and perhaps disinclined to hew to the scripts.
“In the past month, several companies — Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and news outlets — have disclosed that their networks were hacked,” wrote the Times in the introduction. “Many of these cybersecurity breaches in the United States appear to be instigated by the Chinese military.”
China attacked Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Apple! That’s terrible!
If they stole Apple’s shit and started making it in China! Oh, wait. Bad choice. They’ll have all the inside poop on Microsoft’s new Outlook e-mail service, the thing everyone hates. Then they’ll take all Facebook’s accumulated shopping data on you so they can make a FB, or infiltrate it, fill up your feed with ads and not show your posts to your friends unless you pay up.
Well, then they’ll poison the water and cause a blackout. And don’t forget all the wealth stolen, all our many futures down the drain.
And you wonder why I hold cybersecurity experts and stories in such contempt. It’s a crime people are actually paid for it and after fifteen to twenty years, the spite is well-earned.
It’s a shame almost everyone who disagreed abandoned ship. Or maybe they had sense, I can’t decide.
The piece forwarded above, in an English language version of a Chinese News agency, Seven reasons why claims of PLA hacking fail the test.
Take it for what you think it’s worth.