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In Our View / Internet hacking

No secrets in cyberspace

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One of the few ways the Internet has actually met its idealized potential as the "great equalizer" is that governments and grandmas and everyone in between are equally vulnerable to spies, hackers and various tracker. It's the potential repercussions, obviously, that differ. Grandma could lose her identity. The country stands to lose its security.
The U.S. government's current cyber strategy regarding secrets appears to be this: We know Chinese cyberspies have infiltrated just about every powerful institution in Washington D.C. Our hope is that they have stolen so much information they can't make heads or tails of it, or be able to tell what's important.
That's what the Washington Post reported last week, in the wake of recent high-profile hacking of the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Post. Security experts all agree all major institutions in Washington D.C. have been penetrated, the Washington Post reported. The list of those hacked in recent years includes law firms, think tanks, news organizations, human rights groups, contractors, congressional offices, embassies and federal agencies, the paper reported.
Russia and some other nations also are said to engage in cyber-espionage against private companies and institutions, the Post reported, but security experts and U.S. officials say China's effort is the most aggressive and comprehensive. With the Chinese so proficient at monitoring (and censoring) their own citizens, and former citizens, it's not surprising they are the world's leading hackers.
The security company Mandiant, hired by the Washington Post after it was hacked, last week released a report detailing the Chinese military unit allegedly responsible for stealing hundreds of terabytes of data from 141 organizations in 20 industries in the United States and around the world.
Additionally, Canadian researchers in 2009 uncovered a vast global cyber-espionage network controlled largely by servers in China. The military and political targets included the Tibetan government in exile and the office of the Dalai Lama, the Post reported.
As old school as it might be, we trust that our government's most top secret of secrets are not stored online. That would be crazy. Maybe, just maybe, our apparent cyber cluelessness is all a cover story. Perhaps, steps ahead, we have been knowingly feeding the Chinese false information for years, under the guise of letting them hack governmental agencies. Perhaps we allow them in, so we can follow them back from whence they came.
Otherwise, it would appear we really are relying on the not-at-all-comforting strategy (code-named "Wishful Thinking") that the spies and hackers can't make sense of the overwhelming amount of information they have stolen...

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