Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cyber Espionage

With the Google vs. China saga still unfolding, it is still too early to tell what would be the actual fallouts of that in the areas of business, technology, and politic. However, while the dust is far away from settlement, while reading the news headlines related to this saga, the topic of cyber espionage has been popping up a lot in the last few days. Certainly, there is a spectrum of opinion on this issue out there. There are views saying that cyber espionage has been around for almost a decade, and many countries are doing that. As China is the focus in the current saga, there are articles talking about the history of China’s cyber development and we learn new terms like Titan Rain and Zero-day vulnerability. On the other hand, there are blood-boiling bloggers citing the terms of Cold Cyberwar and want to see a united front from all major tech players to against China, etc.

Come to think of it, I want to add my two cents from my pocket on two possible fallouts of this saga:

U.S. and European companies, particularly those in tech or financial fields will be more hesitant to promote or even hire ethnic Chinese, particularly those of first generation immigrants from China, to top level of tech-related positions, especially those in the areas of security and design. There will even be possible trickle down effect to mid level positions and affecting the employment of Chinese American or Asian American in general. Cos, from point of view of those in power, Chinese and Asian in general are all look alike. In addition, new glass ceiling will be put in place for those already have a job in those companies. Related to that, those tech companies will start to build ‘walls’ between their HQ and their China branches, not only on the tech security side, but also personnel side. They will try to reach the optimal balance of milking the low cost talents in China, but blocking them from infiltrating in their core competency or central security on both tech and financial sides. It’s gonna be very difficult, but I won’t doubt that they will try to do that. Cos, pulling out from China is not a good business decision, but they may not feel total comfortable for being too open to the China market there either.

I also think that major chip makers or core tech component manufacturing companies may expand their manufacturing facilities outside China (not leaving there) as hedging the so-called risk of “contamination” of their products. As a matter of fact, according to articles that I read, some U.S. government agencies have already stopped purchasing Lenovo PC/laptops since IBM’s hardware branch was acquired by the Chinese company. I think the development in this direction is quite normal. I remember there was saying that China security authority had conduct thorough checking of every little detail throughout the special jet built for Chinese President from Boeing, so as to find out if there is any monitoring device installed on it for spying purpose. Similar thing in reverse also occurred for U.S. embassy built by the Soviet in Moscow, U.S., in order to check where the structure was bugged, it even tore down part of the structure and rebuild it themselves. In view of the technology advancement, it is not irrational to think that the West governments will suspect the microchips manufactured in China may be bugged as well. Therefore, firms like Intel or others will have plants in other countries, like Czech Republic or Vietnam to produce chips that the governments will be more confident to use in their advanced weapons or systems. Currently, no evidence that those produced in China are ‘tainted’. However, when we dealing with matters of national security on things that most people can’t see, people usually behave like paranoids than normal.

Anyway, I’m sure there have been a lot going on behind the scene for so long, just with Google for some unconfirmed reasons to go public in such high-profile. The ongoing cyber war among countries have finally brought to surface for regular people like us to know and blog about. I just think this whole thing is dangerous, serious, and fascinating at the same time. Stay tune!

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