Institutionalizing China’s Hackers

Back in the Hutong
What a Long, Strange Trip it Was
2129 hrs.

An interesting thought from a professor at Case-Western Reserve University: the freelance Chinese hacker is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, he can serve to disrupt and hack on behalf of his government. On the other, he can help himself and hundreds of others break through the firewalls put into place by the very same government.

I tend to agree, and as such I would wager neither the Chinese government nor Internet libertarians would like to see Chinese hackers go away anytime soon. It’s an ugly bargain out of a William Gibson novel, but it works: even if the central government could bring adequate cyberwar talent in-house, there is a lot to be said for deniability.

What I suspect will happen eventually is the development of a large and varied defense industry that focuses on information warfare in China, both for defensive, offensive, and stealth penetration purposes. Instead of just being suppliers of hardware and software, however, I would wager these companies will actually conduct operations on behalf of the government – info-defense contractors, if you will. That leaves in the deniability, ensures that the government retains access to high-quality talent, and allows the uniformed services to focus on “kinetic” defense.


About David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.
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