We’re in the middle of a war far more damaging, far more threatening to our survival as a free nation, than wars President Barack Obama is so proudly walking away from. This is a cyberwar that the People’s Republic of China is waging against us, and we’re losing it. Badly.
One set of incidents includes this:
[Wall Street] Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co. said Thursday that the paper’s computer systems had been infiltrated by Chinese hackers, apparently to monitor its China coverage. New York Times Co disclosed Wednesday night that its flagship newspaper also had been the victim of cyberspying.
Every computer in the NYT was hacked, and every password of every journalist (among other things) was taken. The reason was the two newspapers’ articles critical of PRC leadership. And they did this with ease and with impunity. The hacking went on for months and only recently was stopped, maybe. And that’s just a couple of newspapers.
There are no consequences for the PRC or for individual hackers, because the US is utterly powerless to do anything.
President Barack Obama is talking and shaking his finger very firmly at the Chinese, however.
The Obama administration is considering more assertive action against Beijing to combat a persistent cyber-espionage campaign it believes Chinese hackers are waging against U.S. companies and government agencies.
…the administration is preparing a new National Intelligence Estimate that, when complete, is expected to detail the cyberthreat, particularly from China, as a growing economic problem. One official said it also will cite more directly a role by the Chinese government in such espionage.
Yeah, that’ll show them.
Erstwhile Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in an interview on her way out the door,
We have to begin making it clear to the Chinese—they’re not the only people hacking us or attempting to hack us—that the United States is going to have to take action to protect not only our government’s, but our private sector, from this kind of illegal intrusions. There’s a lot that we are working on that will be deployed in the event that we don’t get some kind of international effort under way[.]
This war has been underway for a number of years, our vulnerability is uncorrected, and we’re “going to have to take action?” We’re not already? Clinton let the cat out of the bag on our capacity to protect ourselves later in that same interview:
Obviously this can become a very unwelcome and even dangerous tit-for-tat that could be a crescendo of consequences, here at home and around the world, that no one wants to see happen[.]
This administration is afraid to respond, because striking back might angrify those who are hurting us.
James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, exposes with his commentary another aspect of the problem:
In the next year there will be an effort to figure out a way to engage the Chinese more energetically. The issue now is how do we get the Chinese to take this more seriously as a potentially major disruption to the relationship.
This flows, though, from a false premise: the Chinese don’t care about our relationship as much as we do, and they see the relationship materially differently from us. We’re also too desperate to have a relationship with them. Indeed, in an aptly titled editorial (“Barbarians at the Digital Gate”), the WSJ notes
…hacking—both for purposes of monitoring and to steal commercial intellectual property or government secrets—has become the Chinese way.
You can see from all the idle chit-chat—we’re still trying to talk to the PRC and still avoiding concrete action—that our government is too timid, too powerless, and too ignorant actually to do anything to protect our country.