China's Cyber Warriors,
Cyberwar and Cyberspace Treaties (via Beyond the Beyond),
The Advance Persistent Threat Attack (via Beyond the Beyond),
China China China hack hack hack china china (via Beyond the Beyond),
Google vs. China Round 3 (via FastCompany),
Meanwhile, somewhere at the Chinese soft-power retaliation board (via Beyond the Beyond),
Digital Doomsday from the New Scientist,
and Clinton's speech from the Newseum (BBC & CNN).
Google works with Chinese government, part of which involves The Great Firewall and other means of censoring access to the Chinese people.
From time to time, cyber-attacks on businesses and other governments (India, Tibet-in-exile, etc.) are localized to Chinese sources but little can be done except for encouraging "internal policing" by the Chinese.
Google and diplomats to China using Gmail or other services experience malicious hacking that is likely coming out of China.
China's proficiency with digital censorship, monitoring, and hacking--not to mention its internal politics--leads some to hold the Chinese government itself responsible for at least some of the digital malice toward governments and businesses beyond its borders.
Subsequently, Secretary Clinton has made a number of specific comments on internet policing, censorship, and hacking; recently remarking on the aspiration of many that a distinctly liberalizing technology like the internet would have opened up China's sociopolitical barriers overtime, as aspiration that has come to naught.
China continues to hold that the Google vs. China affair is a business matter and not a political matter, ignoring claims of violation into other businesses and governments.
Okay. Deep breath...
I cannot stop thinking about all of the developing news, rhetoric, and politics that have resulted from the attacks on Google. The above, I attempted to make pretty neutral, but I cannot help but take up a certain opinion. Before that, it is important to note something particular about cyberwarfare, whatever the scale.
Bruce Sterling assesses that there are twelve "entities" capable of powerful, society crippling cyberattacks--ten nation-states (including the U.S. and China) and two businesses (Microsoft and Google). In essence, though, high-impact attacks on databases, records, and security information are not particularly expensive. And in the Advanced Persistent Threat Attack, the author notes that the primary requirement for successful infiltration and information theft is patience. That is because any intruder finds access through the weakest defense and, because it is so easy to move information quickly, many access points can be tried simultaneously; any one of which then breaks down the first wall.
To confront this, Secretary Clinton--among others--argue for some sort of international cyber-policing and treaties to protect against cross-boundary attacks. Given that these attacks require a small group of specialists working under loose authority, sometimes only barely associated with one another, this old paradigm of security (determine threat, establish protectorate, respond to dangers, maintain) doesn't make the grade.
Sterling argues that it is a matter of limitations of civil society and the lack of a global society where such an agency can function properly. This may be true, but the type of strategy itself evades policing. These small groups of "cyber-warriors" may be in the employ of governments or businesses or individually operative, the latter of which I find ultimately unlikely, unless the goal is to demonstrate utility for a sponsor. Whatever the method, they are professionals at dodging the usual tracing and identity markers and--as Digital Doomsday in the New Scientist points out--digital information storage is not meant to stick around. Sure, given a hacker's slovenly kept apartment, even a reformatted harddrive can relinquish some of its secrets; but in the case of real geographical distance, establishing hard evidence on the liquid tides of data is nigh impossible. Besides that, it makes remarkable sense for powerful entities to take advantage of hackers for surveillance on rivals; particularly if any infringement can be easily cleared away behind political hurdles and red tape.
Their is a certain weightiness to the discussion when considering personal privacy, but more inevitably gets pushed down on citizens and consumers by the dictates of the perpetrating and defensive entities. Clinton is giving distinct voice to the rhetoric of the digital politics ahead; that is, the game is changing and she is articulating the position of the United States--and the liberal West more broadly--for the path ahead. In case this doesn't sound like a big deal, consider the following: Facebook and Twitter were used thoroughly by organizers of Iranian protests following the election; the Haiti Relief via text messaging has raised over $25 million, in ten dollar increments; and in 2007, Estonia's society was essentially shutdown by flooding government, media, bank, and other websites with hits and malware. Quality, accessible communication services are both one of the greatest tools for building and managing social voice, as well as one of the least understood pressure points of the modern world. How governments and businesses plan to maintain functioning will determine the ways in which we can have a voice in cyberspace. What I mean is that there is an significant personal impact from these matters, it just isn't where you first might look for it.
I am not exactly coming around to any sort of conclusion except that this discussion matters, and it matters significantly. Google may be one of the first businesses to really flex its political muscle in geopolitics now that it has been pushed to do so. That, by no means, ignores the weight of corporate interests in domestic politics and the pushing around of small and poor countries to get lax environmental or safety standards to save a couple of bucks. What I mean is that Google has been put into a spot where it might act in a distinctly political way, making demands and arranging itself strategically the way nation-states generally do. In addition, China is coming into its own in a very different, very volatile way. The current century will be marked by a number of novel characteristics, but China's economic and political role will be the most obvious distinction from the century before. Meanwhile, Western governments are scrambling for the best way to respond to decentralized but highly empowered entities; these include both the nascent wave of cyber-warfare as well as the attacks of more obvious terrorist cells.
This is not the voice of a paranoiac, but one response to this drastic reorganization of global power and the subsequent change is rules is a lot of over-reactive gesticulation and floundering. In reality, no one has to fight for a place here, governments and citizens alike are in a position of recognition of new equilibria, of new balances where before there were inequalities. What does that look like? Well, it means more actively raising living standards as a means of considerate foreign aid and defensive politics; call it reparations for colonial actions or call it aid or debt relief, it doesn't matter because it can cut off violence and discontent more deftly than bombs and sanctions. It also means adapting to the politicization of businesses globally, which need not be a death-knell for workers' rights if corporations are identified as businesses rather than political persons. This, given the recent Supreme Court ruling on corporate spending on campaigns, is an uphill but extraordinarily important battle. (Fair And Clean Election Reform is one key to opening the door forward here, but it is not the only one.) Finally, it means a new economics not built on bubbles growing, bursting, and picking up the pieces that others let drop all around us. On this, I am less learned, but just want to point out that now more than ever we need a maturation of economic politics and theory; and by that I mean a calming of growth and a more considerate approach to building wealth. Wealth, that is, in its widest sense. In the end, real, living wealth needs to be the goal.