On Friday, we highlighted a “secret” NSA map which purports to show every Chinese cyber attack on US targets over the past five years. “The prizes that China pilfered during its ‘intrusions’ included everything from specifications for hybrid cars to formulas for pharmaceutical products to details about U.S. military and civilian air traffic control systems,” intelligence sources told NBC, who broke the story.
The release of the map marked the culmination of a cyber attack propaganda campaign which began with accusations that North Korea had attempted to sabotage Sony, reached peak absurdity when Penn State claimed Chinese spies had taken control of the campus engineering department, and turned serious when Washington blamed China for what was deemed “the largest theft of US government data ever.” “Whether all of this is cause for the Pentagon to activate the ‘offensive’ component of its brand new cyber strategy remains to be seen,” we said yesterday.
As it turns out, the Office of Personnel Management breach will indeed be used to justify a cyber “retaliation”against China, because as The New York Times notes, “the hacking attack was so vast in scope and ambition that the usual practices for dealing with traditional espionage cases [do] not apply.” Here’s more:The Obama administration has determined that it must retaliate against China for the theft of the personal information of more than 20 million Americans from the databases of the Office of Personnel Management, but it is still struggling to decide what it can do without prompting an escalating cyberconflict.
The decision came after the administration concluded that the hacking attack was so vast in scope and ambition that the usual practices for dealing with traditional espionage cases did not apply.
But in a series of classified meetings, officials have struggled to choose among options that range from largely symbolic responses — for example, diplomatic protests or the ouster of known Chinese agents in the United States — to more significant actions that some officials fear could lead to an escalation of the hacking conflict between the two countries.
So the US will do something, it just doesn’t yet know what or when or even if anyone will notice, but one thing is clear: “this aggression will not stand, man.”
Instead, the US may look to remove the so called “great firewall” which Beijing uses to censor content it considers to be subversive or otherwise objectionable.
Of course if the US really wanted to do some cyber damage, the Pentagon could hack into China’s National Bureau of Statistics and see what the country’s real GDP figure looks like, and if that doesn’t teach them a lesson, maybe the best option would be to breach China Securities Finance Corporation and hit the “sell” button.
Full article: The Cyber Wars Begin: Obama Says US “Must Retaliate” Against China For Historic Data Breach (Zero Hedge)