Blaming China (Again)

 
 

I mentioned last week how China had made a rod for its own back with its strict censorship—it’s easy to blame the Chinese government for a host of net censorship gripes because its decision making has been so opaque in the past.

So I can’t help but wonder about a report in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday about News Ltd in Australia, which has apparently been the victim of cyber attacks originating in China.

The article states that its Australian IT security manager said:

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‘[T]he attacks “especially” originated from the Chinese government and claimed they were often accompanied by emailed extortion notices demanding the retraction of articles.’

This seems like an extraordinary suggestion—in effect directly accusing the Chinese government of open sabotage. But what’s surprising to me is that he seems able to confidently trace the attacks back to the government. My understanding, from speaking with experts in the field such as Marcus Sachs, Executive Director of Government Affairs for National Security and Cyber Policy at Verizon in the United States, is that it’s actually extremely difficult to even pinpoint the originating country, much less a specific entity.

Due to the amount of pirated software among Chinese users, they’re more prone to bots and malware, so an attack can look like it has originated with a Chinese user even if it hasn’t.

And frankly, the idea that the Chinese government would have been clumsy enough to send extortion notices with these attacks demanding retraction of articles seems a little far-fetched. But if in doubt, it seems, blame China. No one seems likely to argue.

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