Following this report earlier today.
Last summer, Mr. Sane Thinking About All Things Security Related, Bruce Schneier, offered this perspective on electronic attacks originating in China. His view rings completely true to what I have seen of Chinese tech culture. Highlights:
These hacker groups seem not to be working for the Chinese government. They don't seem to be coordinated by the Chinese military. They're basically young, male, patriotic Chinese citizens, trying to demonstrate that they're just as good as everyone else. As well as the American networks the media likes to talk about, their targets also include pro-Tibet, pro-Taiwan, Falun Gong and pro-Uyghur sites.
The hackers are in this for two reasons: fame and glory, and an attempt to make a living. The fame and glory comes from their nationalistic goals. Some of these hackers are heroes in China....And the money comes from several sources. The groups sell owned computers, malware services, and data they steal on the black market. They sell hacker tools and videos to others wanting to play. They even sell T-shirts, hats and other merchandise on their Web sites.
Schneier points out that the probably non-governmental origin of this threat should moderate fear of a concentrated Chinese military plot -- but doesn't make the objective situation any better:
If anything, the fact that these groups aren't being run by the Chinese government makes the problem worse. Without central political coordination, they're likely to take more risks, do more stupid things and generally ignore the political fallout of their actions.
Schneier also has an update on the current controversy at his main site. For the strongest albeit circumstantial argument that the government or military might have been involved, see this post on Ars Technica. Its main point is that the list of sites known to have been attacked seems more selective and strategically chosen than one would suspect from a bunch of hackers. That's possible. But for now, the evidence still seems to me to support the hacker hypothesis. (Also: this site from the US Air Force's Air University has a number of useful links about US and foreign approaches to electronic info-warfare.)
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