Cyber-espionage: We’re #2! We’re #2!

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We're already rich, so what's our excuse?

Economist story (6/18) about the recent wave of high-profile attacks by hacker collectives references “SQL injections,” or the technique of penetrating databases of companies, agencies, etc. McAfee, the web security firm, says about half of those it tracked over the first quarter of 2011 were made by Chinese “cyberspies” – a rather imprecise term for the Economist because it implies all are working for the government when, you know, China isn’t exactly without criminals or hacktivists. As in all things, China has the most anybodies: the most good people, the most bad, honest, criminal, etc. We imagine everything is organized by the government in China, but spend some time there and you’ll be amazed at how frighteningly wide open it really is – except when it comes to talking about free elections, of course.

But no matter, because McAfee also notes that the #2 source of such blatant espionage (industrial or governmental or just plain criminal) is the United States. Of course, when we do it, it’s not cyber bad-stuff but cyber good-stuff – or just nasty stuff by baddies that our government cannot possibly control (unlike the omnipotent Chinese government).

Point being, all sides are currently exploring how to mess up others via cyberspace.  The treaties won’t come between governments until enough vulnerabilities are made apparent.  Meanwhile, the criminals and hackers will forge on ahead, as is their way. Just remember that when experts sell you on the “rising tide” of cyber warfare by governments.