Information Warfare: Chinese Cyber Warriors Attack

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June 17, 2006: China has sent its Cyber War troops into action during peacetime. Recently, Taiwan's defense ministry network was hacked in a clever way, so that an "official" press release could be sent out, describing, in unflattering terms, a current bribery scandal. What was interesting about this was that the hack demonstrated a high, "military grade" level of skill. Moreover, the operation was typical of one that could be used on a larger scale, over a longer period of time, to damage the public image of the Taiwanese government. This Cyber War operations did exhibit some flaws, however. The spin on the press release was not quite right, and some media recipients did not run the story. Some media outlets did run the information, and damage was done.

The cyber forensics team that investigated the incident were impressed by the skill employed, but were able to trace the attack back to China. Not enough of a trace to nail the exact culprits, but it was definitely mainland stuff.

This is an interesting escalation of the decade old Cyber War between Taiwan and China. Previously, the Chinese had allowed their independent hackers to deface web pages and cause other largely harmless mischief. But professionals on both sides were also breaking into important servers and stealing classified information. The Chinese may have been getting the worst of that, which may be the cause of this recent escalation. The Taiwanese government hackers can also engage in media manipulation, and it would be interesting to see if this sort of Information War spread any farther.

 


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