Information Warfare: June 30, 2005

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Hackers, apparently Chinese, worked their way into the website of a Chinese government Internet security firm, and defaced the company web page. This caused some embarrassment, although the company, Beijing General Security Service, was not noted for Internet security, but for hiring and supervising 4,000 "internet security guards" to monitor what Internet users in the Chinese capital do online. While much message traffic on message boards and in chat rooms is monitored with software (often from American suppliers), human monitors are needed to go after "subversive citizens" who might be speaking in code. China is making a determined effort to prevent the Internet from becoming an uncontrolled source of information the government does not approve of. 

Police states, like China, have a serious problem with the Internet. They need it, for economic reasons. The Internet has become part of the worldwide economic infrastructure. But the Internet also allows unfettered exchange of information. For a police state, this is bad. A police state remains in power, in part, by controlling the media. China has a booming economy, and cannot afford to lock down, or keep out, the Internet, as has happened in police states with poor economies (North Korea, Cuba, Burma). So China is adding more software, and personnel, to police Chinese Internet users. So far, their approach has made many casual Internet users wary of saying, or looking for, anything the government does not approve of. But millions of more savvy Chinese Internet users know of ways to get around the Great Firewall of China, to do as they wish on the Internet. This attack on the Beijing General Security Service was just a reminder that the Chinese war on the Internet is far from over.

 


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