China Alarmed by Security Threat From Internet

From the New York Times:

In the view of both political analysts and technology experts here and in the United States, China’s attempts to tighten its grip on Internet use are driven in part by the conviction that the West — and particularly the United States — is wielding communications innovations from malware to Twitter to weaken it militarily and to stir dissent internally.

“The United States has already done it, many times,” said Song Xiaojun, one of the authors of “Unhappy China,” a 2009 book advocating a muscular Chinese foreign policy, which the party’s propaganda department is said to promote. He cited the so-called color revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia as examples. “It is not really regime change, directly,” he said. “It is more like they use the Internet to sow chaos.”

State media have vented those concerns more vociferously since Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last month criticized China for censorship and called for an investigation of Google’s assertion that its databases had been the target of a sophisticated attack from China. “China wants to make clear that it too is under serious attack from spies on the Internet,” said Cheng Gang, author of the Global Times article.

Despite China’s robust technological abilities, its cyberdefenses are almost certainly more porous than those of the United States, American experts say. To cite one glaring example, even Chinese government computers are frequently equipped with pirated software from Microsoft, they say. That means many users miss out on security upgrades, available to paying users, that fix security breaches exploited by hackers.

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