The US has found itself in an Oh shit no you didn't internet espionage moment, blaming China and Russia for billions of dollars in online theft, the Washington Post reports. Their response? Wasn't us! It's like a geopolitical high school prom scandal.
The setup is simple: a new government report on international hacking—Foreign Spies Stealing U.S. Economic Secrets in Cyberspace—boldly fingers China and Russia, who in all honestly probably are responsible for most of America's pilfered data. They're easily the two most sophisticated (to say nothing of largest) entities in online assaults. The targets are diverse—US government agencies, corporations, and universities, all of which sit on giant golden eggs of trade secrets and other intellectual property.
The Russians declined to even respond to the accusation. China, however, is pissed, Reuters reports: "Identifying the attackers without carrying out a comprehensive investigation and making inferences about the attackers is both unprofessional and irresponsible," says Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei. Hm, a comprehensive investigation such as "Foreign Spies Stealing U.S. Economic Secrets in Cyberspace," which was produced by 14 American spy agencies?
Again, there's no reason to doubt the US accusation—China's been caught before. But it's also naive to assume the US isn't doing the exact same thing. The Post cites "a 2009 survey of Chinese computer security professionals, [in which] 89 percent said they were most worried about the United States penetrating their networks, but the U.S. government says its policy is not to conduct such espionage." Oh, right, it's not our official policy to hack China. Just like it's not China's official policy to attack the US, because who would ever adopt that official policy.
These are the spy games of old, adapted to the modern day. What I'd suggest is taking those LulzSec boys out of prison and giving them jobs in Washington. Mr. President, we must not allow a firewall gap! [WaPo and Reuters]
You can keep up with Sam Biddle, the author of this post, on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.