Political Cyber War: Will Chinese Hacker Activity Increase with Dalai Lama Visit?

Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama adds another wedge in the US-China relationship. China condemned the meeting last week and demanded that it be canceled.  Much to the consternation of the Chinese government, Obama met with the Dalai Lama as planned.

It will be interesting to see if the trend of “Political Cyber War” continues. In Iran, government backed hackers have compromised opposition websites who were trying to get out information on protests. In January, Google found information in a counter hacking offensive that pointed towards China as those responsible for hacking their systems and 33 other companies. Last March, the Dalai Lama accused the Chinese government of being behind the hacking of his computer system:

“The Dalai Lama said Tuesday that regardless of who is hacking into the computers of his Tibetan government-in-exile, the stolen information appears to go straight to the Chinese government.”

So, here we have two different situations, the Iranian Opposition and the Tibetan Exiles, but in both, politically based hacking took place to hinder and steal information. These tactics have been called “Political Hacktivism”, but I don’t think that this is a very accurate term. Websites are not just being defaced with political statements and protests, political cyber war goes further. Many times denial of service attacks are used to mask deeper penetrations. Also, information is being stolen and passwords are being collected to be used in later, more invasive attacks.

Will this trend of “political cyber warfare” continue? Only time will tell.


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