Is the “Chinamerica” illusion Losing Its Luster

The story that just won’t die is back and again we ask, what are the stakes for Google, and the U.S., if, the #3 search engine in China, Google were to either leave China or be rendered weak and insignificant by, #1 search engine in China, Baidu?  All the pussyfooting around the great China/Google meltdown leaves the one question everyone wants an answer to now:  Has Google’s algorithm been snatched?  What else can be inferred by the return of the story on Lanxiang Vocational School, a "huge vocational school that was established with military support and trains some computer scientists for the military. The school’s computer network is operated by a company with close ties purportedly to Baidu, the dominant search engine in China." This time more innuendo and edentulous accusations.  Everyone knows this is a political football, between the Chinese government’s feigned indifference initially, and Secretary Clinton’s, very un-diplomatic, woodshedding of officials for their failure to meet Western standards.  It sure sounds like this is more than a harmless breach; it sounds like some serious damage has been done.

ARE WE HEADING DOWN A SLIDING SLOPE?

                                                                                                                                   by J. Mikton

We’ve all heard of the idealism of Brin and Page and the pragmatism of Schmidt.  No one who has done business in China believes they will alter their behavior and grant Google freedoms absent other companies.  None of the great minds at Google believe for a second that this is going to change anytime soon, or because they demand it to happen.  China of course wants to keep Google, but only on their terms.  Some are saying they aren’t to be afforded their own security world view.  Surely, their world view with respect to digital security is different from the West and surely Google has known this and accepted concessions since the beginning.  Yet Google remains tightlipped on any specifics and they appear to be painting themselves into an exit strategy.

This latest row began around Christmas last year.  Google and other U.S. businesses got hacked, as did many Chinese businesses, and China had been slow and deliberate in their response.  It seemed to cool down and now we see the NY Times drag out more accusations attempting to pin the blame on a military connection to a school with a connection to some work done by Baidu.

Pirated software in China is epidemic and guarntees intrusions and cyber problems. Cybercriminals inside and outside China exploit any country’s vulnerable infrastructure for their profit.  If you ask around the security pros in Silicon Valley, this is business as usual and many wonder what’s behind the sudden outrage.  And why would the NYTimes be taking their approach while the news is all over the wires that China no longer is going to wait before they respond:  "

Investigation in the staff found no trace the attacks originated from our school," Li Zixiang, party chief at Lanxiang Vocational School in Shandong Province" was quoted as saying.  They have already denied it, done an investigation and offered the proforma suggestions.  Yet it won’t go away, and their denial is ignored. Surely everyone knows that, even if someone hacked a Baidu server, it proves nothing.  So why drag out a story that was a yawn weeks ago?  From the same Saturday Times article, "Some analysts have privately circulated a document asserting that the vocational school is being used as camouflage for government operations."  That is the same accusation we’ve heard about special programs from schools like Cal and Stanford for decades.

COULDA SHOULDA WOULDA

Here is perhaps the first clue from the same article quoting those crazy wild anon sources, "But other computer industry executives and former government officials said it was possible that the schools were cover for a “false flag” intelligence operation being run by a third country. Some have also speculated that the hacking could be a giant example of criminal industrial espionage, aimed at stealing intellectual property from American technology firms."  This sure sounds like the first hint that maybe they got that algorithm that made the Google Bear famous.
 
Could a seriously smart young Chinese kid have figured out how to bore a hole in Google’s armor and wiki out their magic sauce?  I mean, it could be a million things.  It could be some guy in a barn in Siberia who used a satellite to breach some back door.  These guys doing all this talking still about the hack are pretty smart though.  They know they will never in a million years figure out how to prove who actually did it.  We just don’t understand why this is being handled so poorly.  This is some serious shinola and we think there is a lot more to it than what we are being told.
 
Our spy, the director at the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis in Washington, James C. Mulvenon, a Chinese military specialist to boot, tells us "the Chinese government often involves volunteer “patriotic hackers” to support its policies."  I’m not sure if they are the same kind of "volunteers" we have here in the states, but our volunteers are usually more community minded when they’re hacking out a five spot at San Quentin.  I’m guessing China, like every other nation that is awake, is mining their best and brightest to control the star wars in their minds.  Even if they have to put them in jail first to cooperate.
 
Bottom line in this piece is, "Forensic analysis is yielding new details of how the intruders took advantage of the flaw to gain access to internal corporate servers. They did this by using a clever technique — called man-in-the-mailbox — to exploit the natural trust shared by people who work together in organizations."
 
The way that works is pretty simple really:  "After taking over one computer, intruders insert into an e-mail conversation a message containing a digital attachment carrying malware that is highly likely to be opened by the second victim. The attached malware makes it possible for the intruders to take over the target computer." 
 

The most important reason for discussing this again today is that the stakes grew larger for the entire technology community and the popluations on both sides of the world.  From China Global Times today, "Instead the "Chinamerica" illusion has been blown away by ideological differences."  and "Cooperation and competition will continue to shape Sino-US relations."  China is not rattled as much as it is annoyed and even if they managed to steal the Golden Google Goose code, they surely are not going to admit to it.  "The most significant bilateral relationship in the world should not suffer reverses."  They believe the stakes are as high as we believe they are.  Bigger even than Google, if you can imagine that.  Now, can someone in the Obama administration reign in their disparate approach to this very significant, very dynamic, relationship and lead us out of the volatility that pervades business across the planet.  A happy China will help everyone.

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