Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Schneier: The Chinese Hacker Explained

[via James Fallows]

One of the disadvantages of time spent with very good science fiction writers is a persistent sense of deja-vu. I feel I read this story in Gibson's Neuromancer 24 years ago [1]:
My Take : Discovery Channel - Bruce Schneier

... These hacker groups seem not to be working for the Chinese government. They don't seem to be coordinated by the Chinese military. They're basically young, male, patriotic Chinese citizens, trying to demonstrate that they're just as good as everyone else. As well as the American networks the media likes to talk about, their targets also include pro-Tibet, pro-Taiwan, Falun Gong and pro-Uyghur sites.

The hackers are in this for two reasons: fame and glory, and an attempt to make a living. The fame and glory comes from their nationalistic goals. Some of these hackers are heroes in China. They're upholding the country's honor against both anti-Chinese forces like the pro-Tibet movement and larger forces like the United States.

And the money comes from several sources. The groups sell owned computers, malware services, and data they steal on the black market. They sell hacker tools and videos to others wanting to play. They even sell T-shirts, hats and other merchandise on their Web sites.

This is not to say that the Chinese military ignores the hacker groups within their country. Certainly the Chinese government knows the leaders of the hacker movement and chooses to look the other way. They probably buy stolen intelligence from these hackers. They probably recruit for their own organizations from this self-selecting pool of experienced hacking experts. They certainly learn from the hackers...
Essential reading. Schneier is a fellow Minnesotan, btw.

Mercifully, these young men don't have Macs.

[1] BTW, as Gibson points out, there are no cell phones in Neuromancer -- or Idoru for that matter. It's very hard to write predictive near future science fiction. Of course in Heinlein's "Citizen of the Galaxy", which was really science fantasy/space opera, computer output is on paper strips ...

No comments: