PRC hackers preparing for Internet war with US

By Paul Lin 林保華
This year marks the 120th anniversary of the beginning of the First Sino-Japanese War and the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. It is also the 64th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War. Trying to build a new international order following China’s rise is creating a multitude of problems and a warlike atmosphere.
The import of the hacker attacks on Hong Kong media outlets and the Web site for Hong Kong’s online “referendum” on “true universal suffrage” must not be underestimated. It is almost certain that this was the action of Chinese hackers, because the organizations that were attacked had no quarrel with ordinary people, but challenged China’s authoritarian rule. The attempts to resist the incursions have sparked an Internet war.
Matthew Prince, CEO of Cloudflare, a US Internet services company trying to help Hong Kong’s civic society, is personally watching over defensive operations and has finally succeeded, earning the gratitude of many Hong Kongers.
Prince told reporters that the attackers change strategies and use technologies that have never been seen before, including large volumes of encrypted data and a network of hundreds of thousands of computers distributed across the world. It is estimated that the scale of the denial of service attacks is at least twice the measured 300Gb per second. The largest previous attack was 400Gb per second.
PRC hackers are allocated a budget. About a year ago, the US said they were primarily from People’s Liberation Army Unit 61398, which has its main base in the Pudong New Area in Shanghai. About a month ago, the US Department of Justice announced that it would file lawsuits against five PLA officers for stealing US commercial secrets on behalf of the Chinese government. All five belong to Unit 61398.
In 1999, two Chinese air force colonels, Qiao Liang (喬良) and Wang Xiangsui (王湘穗), published a book titled Unrestricted Warfare (超限戰). They revealed the PLA’s interest in warfare without parameters, saying neither national borders, cyberspace, international law, national law, codes of conduct nor ethics were restrictions. At the time, Internet warfare was a new concept, but they said it could be foreseen that this threat would bring greater harm to the US than to other countries.
In an article discussing Internet warfare in the June issue of the Chinese-language Chengming Magazine (爭鳴雜誌), the author said Beijing’s cyberattacks on the US were mainly directed at the economic sector and accessing technological secrets. Possibly due to fears of retaliation, infiltration of the military sector has not been as advanced, but another reason could be hacker technology is unable to break the US military’s Internet defenses.
China’s recent “Internet purification” is part of preparations that have lowered domestic resistance to Internet war with the US. Relying on German and Swiss technology, China has had a breakthrough in the development of quantum networks.
Hong Kong is now the epicenter of a cyberwar between China and the US, and it looks as if the US has the upper hand. As the US and China engage in close cyberwar combat, one cannot help but think that perhaps the US and European countries should engage in some self-reflection. After all, multinational companies in these countries have helped China improve its Internet technologies in recent years simply to make a profit.
Taiwanese media outlets have also been attacked, but the government has said nothing. By welcoming China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) and canceling first lady Chow Mei-ching’s (周美青) visit to Japan, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has made it clear which side he is on.
Paul Lin is a political commentator.
Translated by Perry Svensson
Taipei Times  2014.6.28


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