Obama has decided that the best way to deal with 5 Chinese Military hackers is to indict them publicly for cybercrimes. The logic here escapes me completely, but this really happened. China is of course deeply insulted about all this demanding of our ambassador that the U.S. withdraw the indictments. All of this is perfectly predictable political theatre.
It may not be true that the Chinese have the best hackers in the world, but it is definitely true that they have the best organized hackers. They are legendary. They have been doing this for a long time and they have earned their reputation.
At one time it was probably true that most of the hackers learned their trade right here in the U.S. Since this hacking has been going on since at least the late 80’s they are well into their third generation of these hackers and probably can train them in China alone now. That’s a capability that I would want, and I assume they want it as well. It makes sense to not depend on your enemy to train your spies, (which is pretty much what hackers are.)
Spies don’t hold awards ceremonies because the best stolen secrets are the ones that your enemy does not know you have. This can make it nearly impossible for a poor civilian (me) to keep track of what’s really going on in the world of hackers. Still, I long ago concluded that as far as hackers go, the Chinese have been eating our lunch for a very long time. I’d be delighted to be wrong, but I don’t think so.
Still, this is a very strange strategy. These 5 men are probably not themselves the hackers, but most likely are their commanding officers. They never left China and likely never will. In essence, all we are doing by indicting them is saying China steals military and industrial secrets from us, which is already well known by anyone who pays the slightest attention.
The Chinese may have lost some face over this, or pretend they did if it’s useful, but the only thing we are going to get out of this is their raised middle finger.
But if that’s the way we are going to do this then lets get some concrete gains. As China (and hopefully Obama) by now well knows, International law only exists where it is enforced. Not where you CAN enforce it, only where you DO enforce it. So international law be damned. Why don’t we fine them every time we find another Chinese hack into U.S. corporations or government/military computers? I’m thinking a billion a pop. We just let them know that some of the debt they own is considered paid because of this hacking. Now that will irritate them.
They will probably threaten (or even try) to dump all our debt, but if we state that specific bond numbers are now invalid and won’t be paid, nobody will buy them or any other bond numbers, lest we decide to declare those worthless too. That would put a dent in, or potentially eliminate a threat China enjoys holding over our heads.
We’d probably be condemned by the UN for it, but I figure we can just add it to the list.
Even the RUMOR of such a thing might set them back on their heels, which would be a good thing.