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Non-escalatory counter to Chinese cyber-attacks?

This is a discussion on Non-escalatory counter to Chinese cyber-attacks? within the Network Security forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; In response to cyber attacks against the US or probes into classified systems, might the US "hack" Chinese networks and ...


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Old September 10th, 2011   #1
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Non-escalatory counter to Chinese cyber-attacks?

In response to cyber attacks against the US or probes into classified systems, might the US "hack" Chinese networks and simply bypass all the government filters? It would foment anti-government ideas in china. It would cost the Chinese a hell of a lot to put out protests and public dissatisfaction and might cost them more than breaching US security would gain. I also don't think it would terribly politically dangerous because it's just as plausibly deniable as what they're doing to the US systems. Any thoughts?
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Old September 10th, 2011   #2
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In response to cyber attacks against the US or probes into classified systems, might the US "hack" Chinese networks and simply bypass all the government filters? It would foment anti-government ideas in china. It would cost the Chinese a hell of a lot to put out protests and public dissatisfaction and might cost them more than breaching US security would gain. I also don't think it would terribly politically dangerous because it's just as plausibly deniable as what they're doing to the US systems. Any thoughts?
What do you mean bypass the Chinese filters ?

Also, it is SUSPECTED that the Chinese government has been trying to get into classified U.S. files. No solid proof yet.
The Chinese government has not been caught yet, while if the U.S does it back and GETS caught, thats a political sh1tstorm right there.
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Old September 11th, 2011   #3
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Also, it is SUSPECTED that the Chinese government has been trying to get into classified U.S. files. No solid proof yet.
sorry, there's enough internal evidence to show attacks emanating out of specific locations in china

when Govts say "suspected" its a cute way of maintaining civility but letting the other side know that they've been busted with their hand in the jar.

anyone who deals with INT knows damn well that its more than just "SUSPECTED"

military INT (across the 5 types in place) is a little more sophisticated and irrespective of what the public statements are, there's enough solid proof for those who do INT in a real job to have a significantly high level of confidence about who's probing who from where. Esp when all the partners are coming up with the same if not similar results - and esp when they're all sharing as much as they can to verify their own results. .
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Old September 11th, 2011   #4
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It reminds me of those spam busts a few years ago, where spam that seemed to be coming from China and Russia and which was generally being attributed to gangsters in both those countries was ultimately traced back to a couple of nice Jewish kids in the suburbs of Washington DC.

I also recall that one of the Chinese attributed cyber attacks was traced back to a 6th form vocational college in Manchuria that specialised in courses in Hairdressing, Plumbing and Building etc.

The other point though is that why is the US so keen to advertise that the PRC can so easily smash through its cyber security networks? It does not make providing information to the US government a particularly attractive option.

The above point leads on to what is undoubtedly true and adds most weight to the reports, in as far that China's main interest is in internal security and so would be interested in finding details of traitors and other informants giving away secrets or trying to stir unrest with outside assistance. I have noticed that sometimes after reports of some cyber attacks, that there is a round up of dissidents although often the charges are economic rather than political.
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Old September 11th, 2011   #5
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I also don't think it would terribly politically dangerous because it's just as plausibly deniable as what they're doing to the US systems. Any thoughts?
They are trying to slip in-and-out unnoticed with some information. If they even think they have been detected they will back off and shutdown to keep their route in from being traced and identified.

What you are proposing is a running war with their system operators to shutdown, and keep shutdown, the filter software. You will need to remain active in a fairly obvious way. Which makes you very easy to trace, and your deniability will very quickly become blown.

Next, the weapons in a cyber attack are weaknesses in the system unknown to the operators, and the more times you use them the more likely their cyber warriors are to figure out what those weaknesses are, and block them. Those weaknesses are also part of your arsenal for a real cyber war, so you will be using them up before the main event and teaching them where to harden their systems.

Lastly, a cyber war is a guerrilla war, the attacker can never actually ‘win’ as a guerilla, just weaken the enemy to the point that he cannot fend off a conventional physical attack. The defender has the ultimate weapon in cyber war as long as he is willing, as the Chinese government as repeatedly demonstrated, to shutdown outside connections while the system is purged and patched, forcing the attacker to start over with a new set of weapons.
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Old September 12th, 2011   #6
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I've heard many Chinese use proxies to get past government filters. I'll assume many Chinese don't know how or are unwilling to use proxies to get to outside information. I don't think it's a far stretch that some hacker could drop a worm into Chinese networks that doesn't do anything but open proxies or something like that. I guess that's more of what I expected when I posed this post. It just seems like China's Achilles heal is its population, so if they're going to hack away at the US and try to hit it where it's sensitive, would it be so hard to return the favor?
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Old September 13th, 2011   #7
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I've heard many Chinese use proxies to get past government filters. I'll assume many Chinese don't know how or are unwilling to use proxies to get to outside information. I don't think it's a far stretch that some hacker could drop a worm into Chinese networks that doesn't do anything but open proxies or something like that. I guess that's more of what I expected when I posed this post. It just seems like China's Achilles heal is its population, so if they're going to hack away at the US and try to hit it where it's sensitive, would it be so hard to return the favor?
Would you mind stating what you think a proxy is and how they are setup and used?
Because if you are referring to a ‘proxy server’ they don’t work that way.

There are already a number of groups, including some organized as programming projects at major universities, dedicated to poking holes in ‘The Great Firewall of China”. So adding another more aggressive attempt to increase access may generate little apparent effect.

But the average Chinese citizen is probably more concerned about finding out what is going on inside China, and sometimes beating the censors seems more like a national sport for them.
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Old September 24th, 2011   #8
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I just know of proxies as the things my friends and I used in high school to bypass the school filters for facebook and porn. My friend had it all setup for me and even made a script that sandboxed my web browser, opened it, and went to a website that made all the good stuff appear.
I've wondered since then if someone could make a worm that did that. What would be required for doing what I described above, from my amateur point of view, would just been the creation of sleeper proxy servers that were accessable by the chinese population and that didn't draw attention from the government until they were used.
I guess I'm just bouncing ideas off you guys, but really I posted the thread to pose the idea of using the threat of information freedom as a deterrant against cyber espionage. It's much less embarrassing to be caught doing that then stealing stealth or nuclear secrets, or at least to the public it would play out that way.

EDIT: I also wanted to add that most Chinese have never heard of the Tianaman incident. Though from your posts it sounds like my idea is a dud but the conversation was surely worth the post ty guys.

Last edited by Armoredpriapism; September 24th, 2011 at 09:58 PM. Reason: typo
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Old September 24th, 2011   #9
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EDIT: I also wanted to add that most Chinese have never heard of the Tianaman incident. Though from your posts it sounds like my idea is a dud but the conversation was surely worth the post ty guys.
Its actually quite sad that these people don't know their own history.

I was attached to what was referred to as the "Tiananmen Task Force", my job was to interview students seeking political asylum. I actually had my Govt car rammed by Chinese Embassy staff in the street just outside the Embassy where students were protesting.

If they weren't going to respect local laws they sure as heck weren't going to respect rights of expression, even in another country.

A society that continues to be brainwashed by the political embarassment of the past deserves better.
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Old September 25th, 2011   #10
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Who says that most Chinese don't know about the 89 Rebellion?

I can assure you that it is widely known and understood and the notion that the hundreds of millions of tech savvy mainlanders are incapable of bypassing official restraints, finding out and discussing it in detail, is ludicrous.

gf hits on the right word though "Embarrassment", although in this instance it is the embarresment of the majority in regard to a few naive bookish youngsters being seduced by western notions at a time of radical change and temporary vulnerability (the late 80's) and who made unwise relationships with western journalists and; of course, Intelligence Officers.

The prevailing attitude in China today remains one of optimism and hopes of making money. As the current system is visibly delivering, there is no ground swell of opinion pressing for change.

In fact in the minds of most mainlanders I know, the Tiananmen incident simply serves to link notions of Western Democracy and Human Rights, with, Instability, Chaos, Violence and Destruction, in fact the very things which they increasingly see abroad in Western Countries today and which as a nation, they have already had a belly full of in the not too distant past.
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Old September 25th, 2011   #11
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.........
In fact in the minds of most mainlanders I know, the Tiananmen incident simply serves to link notions of Western Democracy and Human Rights, with, Instability, Chaos, Violence and Destruction, in fact the very things which they increasingly see abroad in Western Countries today and which as a nation, they have already had a belly full of in the not too distant past.
That's true, many recent Chinese who travel overseas to western countries as students seem to be even more certain the Tiananmen students were just manipulated by western forces.
But of course, western media now prefers to call these new students who support China's actions then as 'dangerous nationalists' whereas they liked to call those Tiananmen students as 'democracy activists'.
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Old September 25th, 2011   #12
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That's true, many recent Chinese who travel overseas to western countries as students seem to be even more certain the Tiananmen students were just manipulated by western forces.
But of course, western media now prefers to call these new students who support China's actions then as 'dangerous nationalists' whereas they liked to call those Tiananmen students as 'democracy activists'.
I'd like to say that in 2002 I wholey supported what the US was doing in the middle east. In 2003 I thought we were about to triumphantly march into Iraq and do everyone there a favor. Really, the impression I had, and my neighbors had as Americans, was that the 1st Infantry Division was going to march into Iraq and fix every woe any Iraqi had. We were convinced that the population wanted us to fight our way in there. Mom was coming around to put things back the way they ought to be. The naysayers and the protesters here and abroad 1) weren't killed by the army, and 2) seemed completely naive. Saddam was in bed with Osama and they were both about to plant a few nukes in my suburb. In the end, obviously, I was pretty naive, but I wasn't abnormally dumb. If Americans could be so easily influenced to go along with all of that, when we always bitch about spending tax money, and with our celebrated freedoms of expression, it scares me to think what an average person in a system like China's could let his government get away with in the future, especially as China tries to gain more influence and expeditionary power in the future. So it seem like it would be a good thing for everyone in the world to have a juggernaut like China accountable to someone, even if it's only its own people.
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Old September 26th, 2011   #13
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you know the situation in china today is very interesting.

those chinese who have never been to foreign nation, have sort of naive and blind longing to the west, the image of west has been excessively glorified like paradise. on the other hand, those chinese who have been abroad for several years have quite negative view towards the west, and many of them become more patriotic than the fellows live in china.

I guess it's just natural response when people experience sharp contrast between ideal and reality.
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Old September 26th, 2011   #14
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those chinese who have never been to foreign nation, have sort of naive and blind longing to the west, the image of west has been excessively glorified like paradise. on the other hand, those chinese who have been abroad for several years have quite negative view towards the west, and many of them become more patriotic than the fellows live in china.
Or maybe the only ones that go back to China were fanatics before they visited the west.

By sampling only those that have returned you are dealing with a pre-filtered group displaying a high level of bias on the subject. The outcome of the poll was never in doubt.
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Old September 28th, 2011   #15
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Or maybe the only ones that go back to China were fanatics before they visited the west.

By sampling only those that have returned you are dealing with a pre-filtered group displaying a high level of bias on the subject. The outcome of the poll was never in doubt.
There is a self-selection bias involved there, certainly, and I wonder how readily your average Chinese who returns to China says "Down with the party, long live the West!"
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