News Release

China Cyber Report Reflects Tension — and Need to Demilitarize Internet

The New York Times today features a now widely reported lead story titled “Chinese Army Unit Is Seen as Tied to Hacking Against U.S.” — which is based on a new report by the internet security firm Mandiant.

SASCHA MEINRATH, TIM MAURER, [email], @NewAmericaOTI
Meinrath is vice president of the New America Foundation and director of its Open Technology Institute. He said today: “The alleged Chinese government hacking comes as no surprise to folks who have been following cybersecurity developments. The level of detail reported by the New York Times is the new development, pointing to a marked escalation in the tensions between the U.S. and China. More urgently than ever, we need to address the technical realities and likely outcomes resulting from military activities online.

“This tactic — hacking is actively pursued by the U.S. and China among others — needs to cease. Demilitarizing cyberspace must be a core goal for the Obama administration. As a global technological leader and first adopter, the United States is particularly vulnerable to the weaponization of the Internet; it’s time for the Obama administration to lead by example. Government hacking — both for espionage and warfare — is unacceptable”.

Maurer, a cybersecurity analyst with the Open Technology Institute, adds: “Targeting civilian infrastructure is a direct violation of the Geneva Conventions. The International Committee of the Red Cross has pointed out that international humanitarian law also covers cyberwarfare. The global community must affirm that the Geneva Conventions apply in cyberspace much like the Human Rights Council affirmed last year that human rights must be protected online as well as off.”

See this article by Matthew Yglesias about Mandiant: “Meet the Company That’s Profiting From Chinese Hacking.”