Cyber-Security, China, and SENDS

By James Fallows

Lots of pieces in motion on the China-v-the-world security front in recent days. The Wikileaks-borne report that a member of the Chinese Politburo ordered the attack on Google's systems there, allegedly out of pique for finding negative information about himself in a Google search. The recent contention -- since debunked -- that China Telecom had deliberately misrouted and "hijacked" some 15% of the world's internet traffic. It later turned out that the figure was probably closer to 0.015% than 15% -- and that, as in so many cases, what outside observers thought to be carefully planned, concerted action may have been a series of accidents and misunderstandings. But there is nothing accidental about the Chinese government's ongoing and lamentable efforts to persuade other countries to boycott the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honoring Liu Xiaobo on December 10. Nor about a Chinese court's refusal today to let a U.S. diplomat (Robert Goldberg, deputy chief of mission in Beijing) attend an appeal hearing for a U.S. citizen who has been sentenced to eight years in prison. Plus the ongoing North Korea and Iran mess.

This is a long and indirect way of getting to something I've meant to mention for a while: a new web site on various cyber-security issues, including but not limited to those involving China. It is called SENDS, an acronym explained on the SENDS site, and it's intended to promote discussion about electronic security measures. My friend Bob Schapiro, NY Emmy-winning producer and director, has an introductory essay here. Another installment, applying Jane Austen logic to the internet (yes, it's "SENDS and Sensibility"), is by Carl Hunt, also a friend. They're inviting comments and submissions from readers. There are obviously a lot of other sites covering similar issues, and this one is just getting going. But it's worth a look.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/11/cyber-security-china-and-sends/67191/