A ground-breaking report prepared by Northrop Grumman for the ‘US-China Economic and Security Review Commission’ provides a clinical insight into the history of Chinese cyber-warfare and its modest beginnings. Which says Between the years 2000 and 2006, hoards of Chinese students attended information security courses at American universities and returned to their homeland ditching lucrative job offers. It was attributed that these state-sponsored students became the backbone of China’s cyber-army.
THE RUSSIAN CONNECTION
Another related development which tipped the scale towards China is its will to act as a safe-haven for cyber-crime infrastructure. Around 2006, a powerful syndicate of cyber-criminals based in St. Petersburg, called the Russian Business Network (RBN), monopolised the identity theft, child pornography, phishing, spam, and malware industry by providing hack-proof internet services. At the peak of its existence, it had estimated revenues of around $150 million and flaunted connections with Russians politicians.
Only after a vociferous campaign by media and international security agencies did the Russian authorities decide to dismantle RBN. In a few days after the crackdown, it had found a new home in China, though only temporarily.
This incident became a precursor for the growth of an ancillary industry in China, the bullet proof hosting services, catering to a wide-array of shady clients including espionage operators. Its after-effects are being seen globally now. In a country like China where the Internet is so strictly regulated, this brashness and audacity of non-state actors leaves little to doubt.
‘Assessing India’s Cyber-Defence Preparedness‘ by Pukhraj Singh, Jindal Journal of International Affairs 339-351 (2011)
Edited by Shantanu K. Bansal