Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on May 6, 2008
The U.S. isn’t the only country victimized by cyber espionage that is blaming China. Something similar seems to be happening in India, too. American military and intelligence officials, as several of my BusinessWeek colleagues published in a cover story last month, argue that China “is the U.S.’s biggest cyber menace,” a charge that the Chinese government denies. (For the full text of the Chinese response to BusinessWeek, see here.) The Chinese argue that in many cases they are victims of hackers, fraudsters and others cyber criminals based in other countries who take advantage of gaps in the Chinese security network to hijack computers in the PRC.
Now people in India are pointing the finger at China. The Times of India yesterday reported unnamed Indian government officials alleging China has orchestrated a series of attacks on sensitive networks of Indian agencies. “China’s cyber warfare army is marching on, and India is suffering silently,” is the lead of the Times story. “Over the past one and a half years, officials said, China has mounted almost daily attacks on Indian computer networks, both government and private, showing its intent and capability.”
Hard to say what to make of this story, which relies on unnamed sources. Maybe there’s something to this. David Utter, who writes at Security Pro News (where I first read about the Times story) thinks so: “Publicly, blame for such attacks tends to be spread around by government types. Hackers of undisclosed origins stand at the end of the finger-pointing of guilt. Privately, everyone knows exactly who is to blame. In India, research into attacks routinely found their origins in China.”
But maybe there’s some convenient fear-mongering here, too. Whoever it is who talked to the Times has a pretty clear agenda – convince the powers that be to provide more funding to boost India’s cyber warfare capability. As the Times reports, “Dedicated teams of officials — all underpaid, of course — are involved in a daily deflection of attacks. But the real gap is that a retaliatory offensive system is yet to be created.” (Emphasis added.) What better way to convince the Indian public that hard-working civil servants need more money? Say they’re protecting the country against the Chinese.