Recently, the New York Times published an article saying that the president of the United States, Barack Obama took the decision to retaliate against China, after the famous hack of the OPM, leaving in the wild over 20 million personal records.
Now the tricky part is how to do that without generating an official cyber war? This is likely to be the first problem for the White house that still haven’t found a solution.
Such a drastic decision leaves me thinking that maybe the hacking attack against the OPM may have been bigger that we know, and the White House standard practices to deal with “normal” hacks wouldn’t be enough.
Some sources say that inside the White house there are two major different opinions, one supporting a diplomatic protest, the other is pushing to the dismissal of Chinese agents operating the in the US, and known but the US Government.
Aside from that, the real question is if the US, will target China and try to steal (and maybe leak it?) information from Chinese major entities, as it was done with the OPM hack.
I believe that the Information warfare between the two most powerful countries in the world is already happening, even if the official statement is that they are allies and support each other, there is interest of getting as much information as possible from your allies.
It’s possible that if cyber-war becomes bigger and more aggressive, can easier escalate to something else and that is the biggest fear in the white house, but there is other opinions like the one of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee who says
“The way you deal with a bully on the playground is to punch them in the face and put them on the ground because the only thing they respect is power”
An anonymous source involved in this debate said , “One of the conclusions we’ve reached is that we need to be a bit more public about our responses, and one reason is deterrence.”, “We need to disrupt and deter what our adversaries are doing in cyberspace, and that means you need a full range of tools to tailor a response,”
Legal actions can be taken against Chinese individuals, but in practical terms, it will not sort any effect. In the past this was already done, in 2014 five Chinese spies were formally accused of stealing data from American companies, but because none of them will be prosecuted and sentenced in the US, so no clear damages to the Chinese individuals, neither for the Chinese government.
The important here is to have an open mind, and not taking sides, and doing that we can realize that the accusations came from both sides ( China and America), and China claiming that the US are the most active country in cyber spying against other countries.
In my opinion, more of these situations will start to happen more frequently, and when countries will start to retaliate more and more, who knows to where that can lead us?
About the Author Elsio Pinto
Edited by Pierluigi Paganini
(Security Affairs – China, OPM)