Information Warfare: Scary Stuff

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December 6,2008: China and Russia are displaying numerous instances of a new phenomenon; cyber-nationalism. This new disease manifests itself when an event, or government propaganda, stirs up nationalistic feelings among many Internet users. There then follows much chatter on message boards, email, messaging and so on. This quickly evolves into the organizing of online vigilantes. Nationalistic hackers proceed to do damage to any available target of these nationalistic feelings. Often there isn't a target, as in the case of a natural disaster, where the mobilized net users concentrate on helping out. But when the news event involves another nation, or person, there follows hacking attacks, of varying degrees of intensity, against the designated "enemy."

The governments in Russia and China have both "guided" this ire at approved targets. But since China is still a tightly (more so than Russia) controlled police state, there is also the risk of the enraged cyber patriots turning on the Communist Party. This has already happened a few times, usually in response to government corruption or incompetence. This explains why China spends so much on software, hardware and staff to gain some control over who uses the Internet inside China. Obviously, the ultimate defense against uncontrolled cyber-nationalism against the government, is to pull the plug on the Internet. That's a very short term solution, because so much of the economy depends on the Internet. Moreover, there would be a major backlash over this tactic.

As long as China is a communist police state, with a large and growing (half a billion users in a few years, they will remain vulnerable to a revolution that gets started, not in the streets, but on the net.

If you want to experience the Internet as users inside China do, go to www.chinachannel.hk. Scary stuff.

 


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