Media: Please Be Clearer. Was it China, or Chinese Hackers?

The WSJ, like many other media sites, has a headline today that says "U.S. Suspects China in Huge Data Breach of Government Computers."  Then, when you read the article, it says "Chinese hackers" or "hackers in China".

There is an enormous difference between saying China is responsible and saying hackers in China are responsible.  The first would be a very serious affair, implying the Chinese government was engaged in hacking of US Government records.  The latter is virtually meaningless.   It simply means that the hackers happened to be Chinese.  They could have easily been Russian or American.

The media claims to be largely pacifist, but has anyone else noticed that they sure seem to be trying to stir up Americans in some sort of anti-China fever of late?

  • marque2

    I think the real suspicion, is that China and Chinese hackers are one and the same. It isn't unknown for China, Russia, and even France to engage in industrial theft of secrets and confidential material from American government sources and American companies.

    Yes, Chinese hackers on the payroll of China.

  • https://www.teepublic.com/user/ECM ECM

    I don't think we need the media to be anti-Chinese--you just have to understand the Chinese and their worldview for that.

  • http://vikingvista.blogspot.com/ vikingvista

    The problem is that the media and most pundits use the name of a country (and pronouns "we", "us", "they", and "them") to refer anything anyone in the country does, governmental or not. But for brevity, it may be excusable in a headline so long as the ambiguity is removed in the body of the article.

  • Sue Smith

    Even if it were the Chinese Government, what a bunch of hypocrisy. The NSA, CIA and fill in the 3 letter US acronym agency have been hacking foreign governments and their leaders for years. Ask Angela Merkel about her phone calls. And ask Angela who Germany is (or isn't for a shorter list) hacking.
    To Coyote's point, it does seem the "media" is trying to stir passions in the US for military action. We had better be careful or we will get what we have coming for years of world wide meddling.

  • http://matthewjudebrown.com/ Morven

    Not unheard of for America to do the same thing, too.

  • Canvasback

    There's an old quip about that:
    "When Hearst Artist Frederic Remington, cabled from Cuba in 1897 that
    "there will be no war," William Randolph Hearst cabled back: "You
    furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war."

    Time Magazine, Oct. 27, 1947

  • c_andrew

    But, But, government is just another name for things that we do together, right?
    /sarc
    So the next question we have to ask the mediaites is "did China build that?"
    By the way, the sarc is directed at the media and their acolytes. I realized that it might be open to misinterpretation.

  • FelineCannonball

    Various recent hacks related to the theft of military technology (i.e. the F35) originated through exploits against individuals involved in government or military contracting. That's how it works. It was the same in WWII for that matter. Hacking federal employees could have more mundane goals, but that's not the implication here if it goes beyond credit card accounts or the making of spam bots. Mapping employees is the mapping of targets for intelligence gathering.

    "The first would be a very serious affair, implying the Chinese government was engaged in hacking of US Government records." -- yeah, I guess. But since we've known about it forever I'm not sure why it's not a yawn at this point.

    As to hypocrisy, I think you have to make a few distinctions. The Chinese government is more directly involved in commercial enterprise, so government spying against corporations and academics for economic purposes is a little different. I presume we get what we can vis-a-vis military technology but It's mostly a threat assessment tool. By historical accident they don't have much we want to copy.

  • herdgadfly

    The WaPo, on June 4, was precise in its description of the hack as "hackers working for the Chinese state."

    For another view of just how innocent the Chinese are, you must read wretchard's brilliant piece on "The War of the Green Men" over at Belmont Club.

  • Daniel Barger

    Very little occurs online in China that the government is unaware of. This hacking incident was either done specifically with the blessing of Beijing or with their knowledge and complicity.

  • obloodyhell

    Indeed, as Warren should surely be at least suspecting of, and thus far less presumptive that there's a distinction to be made in regards to something like this.

    But, HEY, Hillary has kept us all safe. She had all of HER information on a safe, secure server in her basement.

  • obloodyhell

    Yeah, because those governments all weren't attempting to hack US as well.

    Our FRIENDS hack into us as much as they can, just as we hack into them. The notion of "Friendly" governments is a bit different in meaning when it comes to governments vs. people.

    As far as our "years of world wide meddling" -- as opposed to what? Russia's "years of world wide meddling"? China's "years of world wide meddling"? Britain's "years of world wide meddling"? France's (rather inept) "years of world wide meddling"?

    Amazing how America is pilloried by idiots who give a complete PASS to other nations for doing the same things all the time. If it didn't show abysmal ignorance and irrational stupidity, it would be hilarious.

  • obloodyhell

    Yup. Except when America does it, it's EEEEEEVIL Corporatopia at the helm.

  • bigmaq1980

    "Very little occurs online in China that the government is unaware of." Disagree. There is massive corruption in China. It is not "officially condoned" - Premier Xi Jinping is having a "crackdown" on corruption (and you might recall the prior heir apparent to Hu Jintao was found guilty of corruption). Some links to ponder... .
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/23/opinion/china-corrution-lijia-zhang/index.html
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2084c62e-0053-11e4-8aaf-00144feab7de,Authorised=false.html?_i_location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ft.com%2Fcms%2Fs%2F0%2F2084c62e-0053-11e4-8aaf-00144feab7de.html%3Fsiteedition%3Duk&siteedition=uk&_i_referer=
    http://money.cnn.com/2014/01/28/news/economy/china-anti-corruption/index.html

    Now, having said that, China is one of the least transparent countries existing and has a complex tangle of entities that form "the government". In all practical purposes, it is impossible to accurately separate "official Chinese hackers" from "hackers from China".

    In China, the private and public sector is very intertwined as to make it too murky to reliably determine actions (online or offline) of individuals or groups as officially sanctioned, and to which part of the many pieces of "the government" it was. There will always be plausible deniability, and, if caught, "the perps" will be easily (and prominently) discarded.

  • bigmaq1980

    "Very little occurs online in China that the government is unaware of." Disagree. There is massive corruption in China. It is not "officially condoned" - Premier Xi Jinping is having a "crackdown" on corruption (and you might recall the prior heir apparent to Hu Jintao was found guilty of corruption). Some links to ponder... .
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/23/opinion/china-corrution-lijia-zhang/index.html
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2084c62e-0053-11e4-8aaf-00144feab7de,Authorised=false.html?_i_location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ft.com%2Fcms%2Fs%2F0%2F2084c62e-0053-11e4-8aaf-00144feab7de.html%3Fsiteedition%3Duk&siteedition=uk&_i_referer=
    http://money.cnn.com/2014/01/28/news/economy/china-anti-corruption/index.html

    Now, having said that, China is one of the least transparent countries existing and has a complex tangle of entities that form "the government". In all practical purposes, it is impossible to accurately separate "official Chinese hackers" from "hackers from China".

    In China, the private and public sector is very intertwined as to make it too murky to reliably determine actions (online or offline) of individuals or groups as officially sanctioned, and to which part of the many pieces of "the government" it was. There will always be plausible deniability, and, if caught, "the perps" will be easily (and prominently) discarded.

  • David in Michigan

    Right on target buddy! The last time anyone in the government was so naive about spying was in 1929. Good thing that "Sue Smith" doesn't work for the government.

    ‘Gentlemen don’t read each other’s mail.’—Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson, 1929

  • Daniel Barger

    "Plausible deniability"....a convenient excuse. Of course hacking and spying is not 'officially condoned'. That in no way means that the Chinese government is unaware of it's occurrence.
    They benefit from the actions of hackers, both private and military so the actions of those hackers
    is at the least ignored and if useful enough assisted. On rare occasions perhaps they may offer up
    one as a scapegoat to satisfy political needs. That just means the hacker was a fool for trusting those in charge but the never ending probing, spying, hacking and malware that originates in China is a state sanctioned activity whether or not they 'officially condone' it or not.

  • bigmaq1980

    Think you missed my point.

    Because of the corruption, even private actors will "spy" or "hack" for their own benefit.

    Because of the corruption, various players within the government will do the same whether or not it is officially sanctioned / condoned, or whatever. It may plainly not be, but if the individual / group perpetrating it has enough power and enough plausible deniability, they just can.

    Does the "Chinese government" "know" about it, who can tell. The only thing saying this is likely the case (from what is publicly available) is the target and scale.