By Mark David Blum, Esq.
Google is at War with the Chinese Government. Though there have been previous skirmishes between the two, a major offensive was launched against Google by China. Google responded in kind. Today, the two superpowers are at War. At the same time, the American Government and President Obama remain mum.
By way of background, China has been very controlling of the internet and access to information by its citizens. Google had been under great pressure to keep Chinese citizens off the google.com site and make sure they only could access a government controlled site, google.cn. At the same time, Google maintained its integrity over its computer systems and worked to keep snoops away. Yahoo did not follow suit and is reported to have actually turned over its email list and other data on Chinese dissidents over to the Chinese government.
Last month, engineers at Google’s main computer center discovered that Chinese intruders were breaking into gmail accounts, planting viruses that not only snooped for data but could even turn on webcams and recording devices in the computers. The cyberattack targeted Chinese dissidents, Tibet government computers, and the computers of 33 other major corporations ranging from Adobe Systems to Northrop Grumman.
When Google discovered the cyberattack and mass data gathering, they traced its origin to the Chinese mainland. Google opines that the attack is simply too large, too sophisticated, and too targeted to not be of governmental origin or at least with Chinese government sanction. American intelligence agencies and law enforcement were notified. Unfortunately that while they discovered the attack, rectified it, and thoroughly investigated it, there is not enough evidence to prove in a court of law that China was behind the attack.
President Obama has declared that internet freedom is a central human rights issue. At the same time, a White House spokesman said only that the Federal Government was looking into it.
Google has done more than look into it. They fought back. Google announced it would no longer filter information and material according to the demands of the Chinese government. Google decided for itself to take on the entire Chinese market and threaten to pull out its operations. China has responded editorializing Google as behaving “like a spoiled child.”
We need to stand with Google. I realize the world’s attention is focused elsewhere right now. But if what Google is reporting is true, then some of our nation’s major corporations have been attacked by a foreign and hostile government. Data has been mined. Names have been stolen. The walls behind which companies surround themselves have been penetrated. Our government should not ignore the problem. A response is required to put on notice those who would attack us that we are not to be targeted. Obviously, any action taken has to be measured, but there must be action. Foreign governments are not to be allowed to get away with attacks upon our nation. For what reason do we pay taxes for a military industrial complex if not to assure the security of Americans and American interests worldwide? Bombing Beijing is an overreaction. Scrambling the data in computers containing all Chinese banking records would not be unreasonable. Maybe the answer is to tell the Chinese we are cancelling all our debt.
This latest attack is not the first upon American companies. It is also not the first from China. Experts are engaged in thousands of daily attacks by sophisticated cyberattacks that appear to come from China. The United States is already spending billions of dollars per year to fend off these attacks. When are we going to realize that we in the middle of a true conflict and put an end to it once and for all?
The technology exists to track an attack. Like other terrorist attacks, there may not be evidence to hold up in a Court of law. But that does not necessarily determine innocence. China appears to be up to its eyeballs in cyber attacks upon American computer systems. It matters only slightly whether or not the attacks are officially sanctioned. China is in the best position to put an end to this covert war. Like the Afghanistan and Iraqi governments learned, if you are the terrorist or support terrorism; it doesn’t make a difference as either way, you are the enemy.
A leash needs to be thrown around Beijing’s neck. The Chinese government must take action there to stop the attacks here. If the attacks are government sanctioned, then decapitate the government.
I realize the situation is far more complex and the solution far more complicated than simply decapitating a government. First, Americans don’t feel this cyber attack as being the real thing because there was no attack on any American real estate. It is not as though they bombed Pearl Harbor. Instead, computers of major corporations were attacked. People didn’t die, only data was mined. Second, Google has a lot at stake to just up and burn their bridges with the People’s Republic. Google takes in between $300 million and $400 million annually from its China based google.cn search engine. There are 338 million internet users in China. That is just too huge a market to summarily dismiss.
At the same time, there has to be an end to this conflict. We cannot keep throwing away billions of dollars a year to fight off thousands of attacks. A solution needs to be found. If the Chinese government wont sit at a table and solve the problem with us, then we have to find a solution on our own and implement it. The time has come to end the war; once and for all.
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