Google, China, and the coming threat from cyberspace

Source : http://www.csmonitor.com

January 28, 2010 - Cyberspace attacks are set to increase. Here’s why – and here’s what we can do to stop them. (by Ron Deibert and Rafal Rohozinski)

The recent cyberespionage attacks on Google and that company’s subsequent announcement that it would reconsider its search engine services in China gripped the world’s focus and set off a debate about China’s aggressive cybersecurity strategy.

The apparent scope of the attacks – more than 30 companies affected, Gmail accounts compromised, human rights groups targeted – took many by surprise. Some observers believe the attacks were highly sophisticated in nature, employing never-before-seen techniques. Many reports concluded that the Chinese government undertook the attacks.

As principal investigators in the Information Warfare Monitor, a project formed in 2002 to investigate and analyze the exercise of power in cyberspace, we have seen many of these types of attacks first hand in our research, and have followed closely those examined by other researchers.

From our vantage point, the Google cyberattacks are unusual not in apparent scope or sophistication – as some commentators believe – but rather in terms of the high-profile nature of the victim and the victim’s very public reaction. Indeed, we believe targeted cyber attacks such as these will grow in frequency as cyberspace becomes more heavily contested.

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