US cyber ‘retaliation’ shows hypocrisy

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-8-3 23:43:01

According to a New York Times report, the Obama administration is planning to "retaliate against China for the theft of the personal information of more than 20 million Americans from the database of the Office of Personal Management." One of the most innovative responses, said the article, is to find a way to breach the so-called Great Firewall. An anonymous White House official said Washington needs "a full range of tools to tailor a response."

The White House believes that the hacking was severe and vast, so the usual countermeasures do not apply. However, so far Washington has not offered any solid evidence to prove its allegations against China.

The Great Firewall is a State-sponsored Internet management system. If US cyber forces launch blatant attacks against it, the consequences will be serious. Unlike sneaky hacking, these attacks will be treated as a US invasion of China.

As is known to all, hacking attacks are usually elusive and hard to be traced. Those which were seemingly launched in China might actually came from another country. Therefore, the White House must take full responsibility if it takes so-called countermeasures against China based on ill-considered and ill-founded assumptions.

Without question, if US cyber forces take the first step, their Chinese counterpart would not stand aside and do nothing. There would be a tit-for-tat cyber conflict.

Some Chinese scholars argue that by hyping the cyber attacks, the White House wants to pressure China to get more leverage before the scheduled meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Obama in September. Even though it seems like a diplomatic tactic, it is still too much to assert retaliation against China. The US should understand that it needs to be respectful while communicating with a major power on an equal footing with it.

Beijing and Washington need intensive communication with each other to set up a protocol that can make them feel secure toward each other.

The openness of the Internet and the advances in hacking skills are impressive nowadays. The US, which has as many allies as enemies, is the biggest target of hacking. However, they still look at the current context through a Cold War lens, imagining that China, like the Soviet Union before, is behind all these attacks.

Perhaps the situation is the other way around. Based on The New York Times report, US intelligence officials say that the US has placed "thousands of implants in Chinese computer networks to warn of impending attacks."  Thus, it seems that it is the US that keeps posing threats to Chinese cyberspace.

It is impossible to find absolute security in cyberspace. The US should stop its hypocrisy and paranoia and instead seek more security on the Internet. It should also keep in mind that a so-called retaliation from one major power against another will always lead to an internecine end, let alone at an Internet age.

Posted in: Editorial

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