U.S. and China Talking About Cyberweapons

Stuart Baker calls them "proxy talks" because they're not government to government, but it's a start.

Posted on August 13, 2012 at 6:57 AM • 5 Comments


NobodySpecialAugust 13, 2012 4:00 PM

Russia - there's no point in talking to the government, it's not clear that they are actually in charge of most of the activity. And talking to most Russian organisations able to pull this off is like talking to the Chicago mob about the effect they are having on violin case sales.

In the EU the repercussions of getting caught doing this to another member country probably means it's too risky. And if you are doing it to the US or China you simply blame it on China or the US respectively.

Clive RobinsonAugust 13, 2012 5:57 PM

@ Satai, NobodySpecial,

The reason might just be that the US and China are the only ones "caught with their pants down" as it were...

The US for some reason has been talking up China APT for some time now and at the same time stiring it up between South and North Korea.

Has China / North Korea been doing APT well yes the evidence does kind of look that way. For instance various new Chinese fighter aircraft have more than a passing resemblance to the latest US fighters and prototypes (the joke being it appears China got of the drawing board faster, so possibly it's the other way around ;)

We know that France's "secret service" regularly performs espionage of all forms on forign companies as a routien matter and has actually said so in public. The British are supposadly famous for saying nothing unless it's about "fairy Cake Recipies" disguised as PDF files. All major EU powers spy on each other and other nations as a matter of standard operating procedure. Likewise a number of "Comenwealth Countries" (go look up BRUSA agreement) it's just it does not get talked about because it's not realy in anyones interest to make a lot of noise about it.

We further know that all major Western powers spy on each other and occasionaly let each other know when they detect attacks from "outside the club". For example when an APT drop of point was discovered various IP addresses were back tracked to "Other Nations GO's" and a "word to the wise" given.

We also know that Israel are at it at all levels which is why some of their "employees" are currently undergoing an unpleasant time in South Korea (basicaly S.K regards industrial espionage up with spying on the mil/Gov or treason and have some hefty punishments awaiting).

As normal it's the "fear factor" that's bringing China and the US into the spot light. Realisticaly the US and China have been fighting "proxie wars" since the end of WWII but China has not been the aggressor unless the US "craps on their doorstep" an example being Taiwan. In the Past China would hold war games or send down a submarine to cut an undersea cable to make a point and it would all settle down again.

However China started changing the game plan and in many respects have made a lot of people in the US very nervous, especailly the way China has bought up US assets one way or another. This has reached the point where the US is tied into China in a way that makes dirrect conflict very improbable as China has a very significant economic leaver to lean on when required.

Thus economic warfare is where the next conflict is likely to happen and China is way more likely to survive that sort of conflict than the US (which is very much on the ropes economicaly with only the use of the US Dollar as the international trading currency keeping the US nose above water).

The fear is the US war Hawks will get their way and it will switch from economic to bombs and bullets warfare and the trigger may well be the prolific use of Cyber Espionage that appears to originate in China. The evidence is collecting but it could be others working through China or various factions within China fighting it out. Either way China has been making some interesting noises in resolving some of the issues if this is genuine or just delaying tactics is unclear and is likely to remain so.

However if genuine it is going to meet some fairly stiff oposition in the US in certain quaters as various people have advanced their positions considerably of the back of "China APT" and now they are within an inch or two of getting "the keys to the sweetshop" they are not going to give up without a fight.

As the old Chines curse has it, we now do "live in interesting times" the question is where do China/US go and what do they do next...

Dirk PraetAugust 14, 2012 6:46 PM

We are seeing an interesting historical shift from industrial to informational warfare unfolding here. The fact that at least some of the more prominent players agree to talk about it instead of merely pulling the more usual "plausable deniability" card to me is a commendable initiative indeed.

Clive RobinsonAugust 14, 2012 9:33 PM

@ Dirk,

The fact that at least some of the more prominent players agree to talk about it instead of merely pulling the more usual "plausable deniability" card to me is a commendable initiative indeed

As the old BT add used to say,

"It's Good to Talk"


More seriously though, humaan progress is measured by "false starts and re-tries". Somebody has an idea others argue consensus is gained and a small step of progress is made. Like small children we stumble forward becoming more sure footed with each stap untill we can run with the ball.

Thus the question then becomes "in which direction do we run?"

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