It is estimated that over half the people from the most populous nation on Earth is now spending time online. And with a total population of 1.4 billion, it stands to reason that they also have an enormous number of hackers and cyberspies as well. And if that is not evidence enough, then how about the fact that the Chinese has stolen more secret documents from foreign governments and businesses than any other country in the world?
China Cyber Threats Evolving
As it stands now, the major cyberthreat to the United States from China is currently covert espionage. While annoying cyberattacks do come from the Chinese occasionally, such as those causing overt damage. These are typically come from state threats such as Russia, North Korea, and Iran.
The bad news is that cyberaggression from China against the U.S. has evolved. Before China’s espionage became a threat to be taken seriously, Chinese hackers conducted lots of disruptive cyberattacks against the United States as well as other nations.
Increases in Chinese Hacking
Actually, hackers from China were some of the very first to get together and defend their country. Their very first serious operation against the U.S. took place in year 1999 during the Kosovo incident, when the U.S. troops mistakenly bombed China’s embassy located in Belgrade, which killed three Chinese reporters. Chinese hackers proceeded to plant messages that denounced “NATO’s brutal action” on many United States government websites.
Chinese hackers hit the U.S. once again in the year 2001 right after a Chinese fighter plane suffered a collision with an American reconnaissance aircraft. This midair crash took the life of the Chinese pilot and resulted in a forced landing and subsequent detention of the American crew involved. Hackers from both from China and America responded with many cyberattacks, such as when the Chinese hackers defaced thousands of U.S. websites, which included the White House website.
The most important thing about this entire incident is the things that happened afterwards. The People’s Daily, which is China’s Communist Party major newspaper, posted an editorial boasting about the attack on the White House. This paper referred to it as, “web terrorism” and “unforgivable acts violating the law.” And then during the anniversary of this incident in the year 2002, the government requested that Chinese hackers to forgo additional attacks against U.S. based websites. They eagerly complied.
This happened to be the very last significant cyberattack from Chinese hackers against America. Nowadays, while it seems that Russia is willing to condone acts from their hackers, China has now taken a stand against this kind of activity, at least when it comes to U.S. based websites.
In addition to reducing the hackings, China seems to have quit performing cyberattacks that target things like infrastructures and power grids. However, it has indeed utilized disruptive cyberattacks to enforce its censorship policies against its own people.
The government in China’s “Great Firewall” is designed to keep Chinese internet users from getting access to foreign sites that are censored such as the ones that support Tibetan autonomy. Web traffic is restricted based on internet addresses, domain names, and even keywords within web addresses.
Hackers from China have also utilized service denial attacks which take out the sites that the government wishes to restrict and censor. Attacks like these serve to swamp target servers with huge amounts of activity, prevent others from utilizing the websites and even knocking the servers right offline.