The rise of the digital age has changed not only the way we gather and store our personal data, it too has altered the way businesses and government departments gather and store their data too. This however has also altered the way hackers obtain and infiltrate stores of data and information, for it is much easier and cheaper to hack cyber files than other methods of data gathering.
Cyber Warfare is the new frontline of international affairs and conflict. As the world transitions from practical protests to digitally influenced opposition, so to do the ways we as a species voice our concern and troubles. According to the BBC, China maintains divisions of “spin doctors” throughout the country and infiltrate online conversations that voice opposition or unfavourable comments towards governmental bodies. As stated in the article, leaked documents from one of these divisions in the city of Jiaozuo states that within 10 minutes of negative comments towards local police are posted online, spin doctors assess and analyse the posting and, depending on the severity of the issue, gathering profiles to counter this negativity with positivity. In this instance, 120 profiles were used to post counter comments about local police, highlighting how well they protect the community and help locals out. The report noted that within 20 minutes, most comments began to support the police and even started to condemn and harass the original commentator.
It is not only mere cyber spin doctors that China are mobilizing in their cyber-offensives. Over the past years, China has steadily begun it’s hacking activities into western databases, predominantly those of the United States. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, President Xi stated; “The Chinese government does not engage in theft of commercial secrets in any form, nor does it encourage or support Chinese companies to engage in such practices in any way.” But does President Xi’s denials hold credibility, or is he just playing politics? According to Kevin Mandia of FireEye, a US-based security firm, it is undeniably Chinese hackers who have broken into the databases of the CIA, MI6, Congress and others institutions. Mandia has been assisting the US Government for the last 20 years track and discover who are those hacking into their accounts, and simply puts; “It’s them and we know it’s them.”
So where to from here? There is no denying nations implement cyber spying activities onto one another, as seen in the diplomatic issue between Indonesia and Australia recently, and that this is done to maintain security provisions. But does China have the diplomatic right to access documents from the CIA or the British MI6? Does Edward Snowden or Julian Assange have this same right? And, alternatively, does the United States or Britain have the same access to China’s military data assets?
That is a debate for another day;
Stay Classy UOW,