Think of it as a giant high school game of he says/she says. Only difference being that both nations have a massive amount of the world’s data that if there were to be a catastrophe, the world would halt in a standstill. But other than that, totally the same.
In the past US officials have addressed concerns over cyber-attacks emanating from China. Usually these were talked about in vagaries and overarching ideas. Not anymore.
On Monday, the United States announced criminal action against five Chinese military officials in a cyber-espionage case. The first-of-its-kind cyber-espionage case accuses the Chinese army and other outside groups involved with the Chinese military of hacking into US firms to gain trade secrets and preforming cyber-espionage. The federal indictment claims that Chinese military officials hacked into nuclear facilities, manufacturing lines, and various power industries. Some of these companies are major firms which include Alcoa, United Steelworkers Union, Allegheny Technologies, Westinghouse Electric, and many others.
This looks to be a tipping point for the Obama Administration having promised for years that it would start prosecuting cyber-crime (state sponsored or not) with the fullest extent of the law. Last September President Barak Obama even sat down with Chinese President Xi Jinping to air his concerns on the matter.
As said earlier, this isn’t the first time that the US made these claims. US has alluded to in the past that the Chinese government has launched cyber-attacks on US industries and military targets in hopes of stealing state secrets or intellectual property. In turn, the Chinese government has accused the US of cyber-attacks on military installations that were targeted by the National Security Agency (NSA) and US Cyber Command.
This is definitely the most direct accusation that the US has made to date. It’s too early to decipher if this is all just saber-rattling or something more. Whatever the case may be, when they do make the inevitable Spy Game-esqe movie out of this back-and-forth cyber-war between US and China, remember to cast one of the hacker as this guy.