recommended reading

Cyberspying Indictments Will Not Stop China From Hacking U.S. Businesses, Insiders Say

Charles Dharapak/AP

The high-profile U.S. indictments against five Chinese military officers will not encourage China to stop hacking American businesses to steal valuable trade secrets, virtually all of National Journal's National Security Insiders said.

It was the first time the U.S. brought a criminal case against a foreign government for cyberspying, but 91.5 percent of NJ's pool of security experts downplayed the move, calling the charges "simply silly" and "an empty gesture."

"China will continue to pursue its interests in acquiring access to U.S. secrets at any cost," one Insider said. China will meet last week's indictments, another Insider added, "with a big yawn (and lots of self-serving rhetoric) and continue business as usual."

The legal action might instead encourage China to try harder to avoid detection, Insiders said. "The door to the bank vault is still open."

The real solution, one Insider said, "is to stop complaining and start developing robust widespread encryption to protect everyone from China and the NSA." One Insider said China "won't stop until the U.S. finds an effective sanctions mechanism—and we don't have that yet." 

A slim 8.5 percent minority said the cyberespionage indictments might make an impact on China. "It will infuriate them, but it will also underscore to them the potential costs associated with what they have assumed, up until now, is risk-free (and potentially very profitable) behavior," one Insider said. 

Just days after the charges, Beijing accused the U.S. of launching its own large-scale cyberattacks against the Chinese government and Chinese companies. Yet 76 percent of Insiders said Attorney General Eric Holder's high-profile, public announcement of the charges—the Obama administration's most direct confrontation over China's alleged theft of intellectual property—was the right approach. 

The problem of China's cyberspying has "already been raised at the head of state level, the secretary of Defense level, and multiple political and diplomatic avenues, to little effect," another Insider said. "The Chinese minister of defense challenged the U.S. to provide evidence of the allegations; ... well, here it is. In itself, the indictments are not sufficient, but in tandem [with] other means, it is an important tool in our tool kit."

The indictments are also an important signal to the U.S. business community, an Insider said, "that the U.S. government is taking action to protect U.S. interests."

A vocal 26 percent objected to the new tack, especially after Edward Snowden revealed the National Security Agency's mass surveillance operations. "The Obama administration's approach looks like blatant hypocrisy," one Insider said. "It would seem that we would be in a much stronger position to make such strong allegations were we not engaged in so many questionable cyberpractices across the globe, not to mention against American citizens."

The Chinese, another Insider said, "will do their homework, build the case against our own electronic intrusions, and quite possibly regain the high ground here. The old rule of espionage applies here: 'Read my mail once, shame on you; read my mail twice, shame on me.' Like so many of our foreign adventures, this will not end well for us."

See the full results of the survey at National Journal.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.