The second (so far) admitted gigantic Internet hack of classified Federal government personnel records compromised some 21 million Social Security numbers, per report. A grandstanding Senator sees a Chinese spy recruitment tool as both this latest and the massive earlier hack are attributed to that government. Congressional pressure forced the resignation of the Director of the Federal Office of Personnel Management, somewhat resembling shooting the lone surviving goldfish for not fighting off the cat that ate the rest. One rather frenzied opinion called the hack “a sort of act of war.” None appear so far though, as sort of dead. But would you like to be in China now, knowing that your US government employment records are in the hands of the government there?
We can’t guess at the magnitude of the intelligence loss resulting from this. Or of the value of the intelligence gain for China, if it is the hacker. But the numbers must be large. However, that is not our subject.
As so often when writing about government reports from the media, what is not said is often of much interest. Some may recall for instance, the “Stuxnet” hack of Iranian nuclear production facilities, attributed to the U.S. and Israel maybe ten years back. The U.S. has been using the Internet against other countries for a while now. So have most others if they could, we suppose. After all, everyone has been using whatever came to hand since the ancient Greeks and the Bible provided records on he subject.
The Internet seems to be a free-for-all at the moment, and devil take the hindmost. Those with the most resources gain the most. We all know what country that is. China has some two million people working at its Internet control and spying programs per reports, one place where its primary resource – people – is a help.
Chin’s U.S. personnel records hack is a coup, no doubt but do you doubt that the U.S. and others have not had their days too, at Chinese expense? Diplomacy is spying as well as talking, always has been. Countries are always struggling with each other, whether or not they are actively shooting at any one moment. That is the meaning of word most have heard but fewer have considered: “realpolitik.” It is the ruthless reality behind ambassadorial smiles.
The Chinese hacks will impede U.S. intelligence greatly, for a while. It is not the first time such things have occurred. And note that, whatever they tell you in the news, the NSA is still stealing all the information it can get its hot, slimy electrons around, in or outside the U.S. The world should assume now that there is always somebody listening and reading any electronic communication.
To the extent that it has been possible, this has always been international governmental “business as usual.” Why? Because that’s human nature: ‘Do it to him before he can do it to you.” Realpolitik.
You can’t afford refusing to play the game: Like war, it takes two to avoid. But best, in a democracy, not tell the voters … they don’t understand and become upset too easily. If somehow the voters do hear of something, apply the ancient “British Army Method” by shooting one soldier to encourage the rest.
And muddle on …