Cyberespionage: The Chinese State of Denial

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Today I spoke with Roger Cressey, a cybersecurity and counterterrorism expert for both the Clinton and Bush administrations, and now a senior VP with Booz Allen Hamilton. I asked him if he was equally amused by the Chinese government’s continuous denials that hackers within its borders actively engage in cyberespionage, either with the support of the government or with the tacit blessing of a regime that maintains tight control over the internet.

His response was equally amusing: “it sort of reminds me of the scene from Casablanca", when Captain Renault walks into Rick’s café and says, “I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”

All joking aside, I then asked him when the government in China might fess up – perhaps when they are confronted with irrefutable forensic evidence of a Chinese-based cyber intrusion? Cressey replied that what we needed was another “Adlai Stevenson moment”, recalling the time the former UN Ambassador from the United States showed the UN Security Council photos of Soviet missiles in Cuba, just after the Soviet ambassador had denied their existence.

My interview with Cressey will be highlighted in our upcoming news feature on the hacking community in China, so keep a look out for the final product in our November/December print edition. The online version should go live in December as well.

All amusing historical and pop culture references aside, Cressey said China’s cyberespionage exploits are a “Tier 1” concern for the US and other Western governments and organizations. Until Beijing admits it has a hand in these cyber exploits – or is forced to swallow plain direct evidence of its efforts – then I suppose the only logical thing to do is to “Round up the usual suspects”.

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