China-based hacks into commercial and political networks across the planet have made the news again, with the Trend Micro report on an attack called LuckyCat that targeted Asian defense systems as well as Tibetan networks. The attack was traced back to a graduate of Chengdu’s Sichuan University, Gu Kaiyuan. Gu currently works for Tencent and both he and the company denied that he had anything to with the attacks.
Past attacks also may also have originated in Chengdu – most notably the Ghostnet attacks that were traced back to the University of Electronic Science and Technology in April 2010. Back then we wrote Chengdu’s Spy Network, which included an interview with a graduate of UESTC who told us point blank that the PLA had actively recruited in his school.
Considering the targets and efforts by security firms like Trend Micro to trace the attacks back, it seems like a no-brainer that the Chinese government is behind the attacks. Spying is big business in China and has both helped firms like Huawei and Pangang and many others get a leg up on their international competitors. The rampant espionage can also backfire, as Huawei has learned time and again in its efforts to acquire foreign assets.
All of these attacks have so far garnered little response from the West. Some pundits say that the West is refusing to disclose the severity of the attacks in order to keep the damage secret, others feel that the spy war rages and only the Chinese spies ever make it into the media, because the Chinese media either will not or cannot report on whatever attacks China has suffered.
But we now have a very vocal, very famous combatant that has thrown their collective hat in the ring with a serious of defacements and announcements: AnonymousChina.
Go get em guys!
I am rooting for Anonymous. Not just because I feel violated on a weird national level by every Chinese hack that makes the papers, but also because Anonymous represents the rebel online. The Examiner’s Michael Stone wrote about AnonymousChina on March 30 and overtly praised the new development and I can understand why.
The sites that were defaced are all low level government sites, such as Chengdu’s Central Business District site, but the message left behind is meant for all Chinese to read. So far I am sure very few Chinese have read the message AnonymousChina has for the PRC, but I will re-paste it here to demonstrate what Anonymous wants to be associated with and why I choose to root for them:
Hi all !
Message to Chinese government :
All these years, the Chinese Communist government has subjected its People to unfair laws and unhealthy processes.
Dear Chinese government, you are not infallible, today websites are hacked, tomorrow it will be your vile regime that will fall.
So expect us because we do not forgive, never. What you are doing today to your Great People, tomorrow will be inflicted to you.
With no mercy.
Nothing will stop us, nor your anger nor your weapons.
You do not scare us, because you cannot afraid an idea.
Message to Chinese People :
Each of you suffers from the tyranny of that regime which knows nothing about you. We are with you.
With you here and now. But also tomorrow and the coming days so promising for your freedom. We will never give up.
Don’t loose hope, the revolution begins in the heart.
The silence of all other countries highlights the lack of democracy and justice in China. It’s unbearable.
We must all fight for your freedom.
Get the Message out
I want to join up on Twitter just so I can follow AnonymousChina and spread the word. Why do I think this minor little hackjob is worth following? Because there needs to be a little blowback from all of this hacking. Those computer whizkids in China who slave themselves out to the Man in the name of cash or misguided patriotism should understand that their skills are needed to prop up tyranny and greed.
And it’s not just a China problem, although it feels good to read that in the media. Hacks into commercial and political systems happen every day, all over the world and China isn’t even the most sophisticated or most prolific of them. China is just the enemy of the day, so it’s easy to point at the PRC as the source of all of these mercenary hackers.
But these Chinese hackers annoy me the most because they target enemies of the State and not enemies of freedom or even purely cold hard cash targets. Hackers in my mind are mercenaries that looked out for themselves, but eventually join the good fight. Like Han Solo and Chewy. Why do true Star Wars fans know and love the fact that “Han shot first“? Because Greedo was a punk-slave mercenary who worked for the wrong dude. We don’t have a moral issue with that because Greedo got what he deserved and Han did what he had to do.
Go Anonymous, deface more sites, spread that freedom message and show the (Chinese) hacker world how it’s done.