Google’s recent battle with China over censorship and accusations of hacking highlights a new frontier in the battleground between the US and its adversaries. Cybercrime and cyber spying have been growing issues for over a decade. Russian and Chinese hackers have stolen information from the US military on several occasions. But it seems the spying has spread beyond the military to include major US companies.
This has become a huge issue for companies doing business in China, because according to US government data, Chinese hackers are stealing over $40 Billion per year in intellectual property. The hacks have taken place at major companies like Google as well as the law firms that represent them.
The hackers tend to focus on individual employees, tricking them into downloading infected files and then using the employee’s access to get to sensitive data. Some companies are fighting back by using the hackers to spread false information rather than shutting them down.
Lawmakers are now looking into China’s relationship with the hackers and whether the government is directly involved. By some estimates there are as many as 130,000 people, both civilian and military, working for the Chinese government on hacking projects. NATO is also considering adding cyber warfare to the list of things that it considers a direct attack.
Many US companies have very lax and disorganized physical and IT security practices. With threats from terrorists and criminals on many fronts, that just won’t do anymore.