As the New York Times reported, President Obama's national security adviser became the first White House official to enter into verbal fisticuffs with the Chinese on Monday, asking China to stop the torrential theft of data from U.S. networks and to agree to "acceptable norms of behavior in cyberspace." Tom Donilon spelled out what the White House wants from China:
- Public recognition of the urgency of the problem;
- A commitment to cracking down on hackers in China; and
- An agreement to take part in a dialogue to establish global standards
So we've agreed to identify China by name – officially. That obviously comes on the heels of Mandiant's recent report linking one of the most active Chinese hacking groups to the People's Liberation Army, always something of a misnomer. There has also been a hue and cry in the corporate world which seems to finally realize how badly its data has been penetrated,
The Chinese have, naturally, pointed their finger at us, claiming that most of their own cyberattacks come from the U.S. There may be unclean hands all around, though I doubt the U.S. has been doing anything on the scale of the Chinese – and our motives may well be different, though I tend to find all government motives suspect.
While I'd like to be in good guys, it seems as though the harsh reality is that there are better and worse guys.
It is going to be tough to take a hard line with China when we need its help so much to tamp down the belligerence of North Korea. But as chess games go, it is an interesting first move.
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