Not surprisingly, the aftershocks from the news that both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal had been hit by cyberattacks that almost certainly came from China continue to reverberate. In fact, Journal honcho Rupert Murdoch tweeted on Tuesday: “Chinese still hacking us, or were over weekend.”
The notion that China is launching cyberattacks against American media outlets—or any company or government entity—is old news. Disturbing, yes, but not shocking. What makes the attack against the Times stand out is it is a rare example of nation-state cyberespionage getting personal.
Most cyberattacks coming from China are not personal in nature. The Chinese are simply going after information (which doesn’t make it right, of course, I’m just saying there’s no emotion involved). This attack, in retaliation for a Times article about the sudden wealth acquired by the Chinese prime minister’s family, smacks of personal. It’s a new twist for China and it shows they are emboldened by their successes. It also reveals a hubris that is more often connected to other attackers, such as hacktivists and criminal organizations.
Also interesting is the fact that this is an example of China not just stealing information but controlling information. Typically, China is interested in gathering and stealing information for the sake of having it (and using it to its benefit, of course). In this case, it was stealing information as a way to intimidate both the Times’ sources and its reporters.
China is accustomed to controlling information on its own Internet. Now it is trying to control (not just steal a copy of) information globally, too.
Chinese still hacking us, or were over weekend.
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) February 6, 2013
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