Friday, February 19, 2010

Cyber Attacks Came From China - Again

I'm not all that nostalgic about "the good old days." My memory's too good. The bad guys didn't always wear black hats in westerns, by the way: that's a campus legend. On the other hand, someone with an eastern European accent in a movie was very likely a spy and/or criminal. And a nasty one.

No, I don't miss "the good old days."

I'd like to embrace the fuzzy feelings of peace and love and brotherhood (oops - siblinghood?) for all: without borders, without animosities, without thinking. My memory's too good for that, too.

Not that I'm a "regular American," who grudgingly admits that some of those foreigners make good cars, but doesn't like any of 'those people over there.' I'm a Catholic, which gives me a particular point of view on tolerance and related topics. (A Catholic Citizen in America, August 3, 2009, , for starters)

"Don't be so open-minded that your brain falls out" is good advice, I think. Yellow journalism, headlines screaming "Remember the Maine!" and movies where anybody from eastern Europe was suspect were not good ideas.

Neither is a "tolerance" which involves studiously ignoring or misinterpreting facts.

Cyberattacks, China, and Getting a Grip

I think that The New York Times is a pretty good home-town newspaper for the upper crust of New York City. (October 21, 2008) I also think that the editors - some of them, anyway - try to be professional journalists. And, occasionally succeed.

If this article had been on the front page, or in with international news, I'd have a higher opinion of the Times:
"A series of online attacks on Google and dozens of other American corporations have been traced to computers at two educational institutions in China, including one with close ties to the Chinese military, say people involved in the investigation.

"They also said the attacks, aimed at stealing trade secrets and computer codes and capturing e-mail of Chinese human rights activists, may have begun as early as April, months earlier than previously believed. Google announced on Jan. 12 that it and other companies had been subjected to sophisticated attacks that probably came from China.

"Computer security experts, including investigators from the National Security Agency, have been working since then to pinpoint the source of the attacks. Until recently, the trail had led only to servers in Taiwan.

"If supported by further investigation, the findings raise as many questions as they answer, including the possibility that some of the attacks came from China but not necessarily from the Chinese government, or even from Chinese sources.

"Tracing the attacks further back, to an elite Chinese university and a vocational school, is a breakthrough in a difficult task. Evidence acquired by a United States military contractor that faced the same attacks as Google has even led investigators to suspect a link to a specific computer science class, taught by a Ukrainian professor at the vocational school...."
(The New York Times)
Kudos to the Times, for pointing out that evidence points to specific schools in China. And that this does not necessarily mean that the Chinese government is responsible for the attacks.

But: a security threat like this, in the Technology section? I'm all for suspended judgment and waiting until facts support a conclusion: but I'd also appreciate a bit less of what can be seen as bending-over-backwards polite reticence about acknowledging that China doesn't always play nice.

I don't think that the Chinese government is behind the many cyberattacks that came from computers in China. I certainly don't think that the Chinese government isn't behind the attacks. I don't know.

Sure, it looks like The People's Republic of China has been repeatedly trying to hack into private sector and government computer networks around the world - and in America. But that's suspicion, not knowledge.

Well-founded suspicion, in my opinion: but suspicion nonetheless.

I think I could be less suspicious, though, if traditional American news services didn't seem to be tiptoeing around the idea that the last large worker's paradise on the planet might not be behaving well.

Related posts:And click "China" in this blog's label cloud. In the news:

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.