Earlier today I wrote about the "Apple Hacking" coverage and a couple things to consider while reading it. Then Reuters popped up with this story about how Chinese computer hacking attacks against American targets has markedly slowed ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinxing's visit to the United States this week and talk of US sanctions against China if such activity persisted.
From the Reuters story:
"On Saturday, a Justice Department spokesman said Carlin will make routine remarks and answer questions. The spokesman said he expected U.S cyber espionage charges brought in May 2014 against five Chinese army officers would come up. The indictment alleged the officers conspired from 2006 to 2014 to hack into U.S. entities' computers and steal information.
In July, the FBI said economic espionage cases it had handled in the preceding 12 months were up 53 percent from a year earlier, with China the biggest offender. Statistically, that period could have included a falloff toward the end.
While [Kevin] Mandia [founder of Mandiant] said his perception of a slowdown was unscientific and based on "how often my phone has been ringing," others voiced similar views."
While far from the only government to regularly employ talented hackers to advance state interests, the Chinese government has been particularly aggressive in using hacker units to attack Western and other targets of interest, which include both government and private sector targets.
This is the new reality.
When linked with the real and potential opportunities of surveillance and information networks currently available, government and non-government hackers can potentially access huge stores of data that can be used in very malicious ways if they so choose. There are steps that can be taken to protect and/or limit what such individuals do legally, and investments that can (and should) be made in information infrastructure protection. (Such investments may be costly and won't be politically sexy, but they do need to be made on a regular basis.)
Our challenge as a society is to decide what degree of exposure we are willing to accept to information vulnerabilities, acknowledging there is a point where there's trade off between our levels of security / closed off internet (think Chinese firewall) and our collective freedom to innovate.