Surge in Global Cyber-Spying Implicates All the Usual Suspects

News Analysis: The cyber-spying report to Congress suggests that the Russians are a major player in this field and fingered China as the "world's most active and persistent perpetrator of economic espionage against" the U.S. But what industrialized nation can truthfully claim it's not involved in cyber-spying?

The call for a radio interview was fairly routine. For whatever reason, I get calls from time to time from radio stations asking for a comment on something involving current technology news. Less often, I appear on networks such as NPR to talk about technology. The call I got Nov. 7 was a little unusual in that it came from the Voice of Russia.

For those of you not familiar with the Voice of Russia, it's an information operation of the Russian government that broadcasts on two stations in the U.S., one in Washington and the other in New York. Voice of Russia also broadcasts live on the Web. The station carries news and features giving the Russian take on global news, including news in the U.S. If this sounds familiar, that's because it's the new face of what was once Radio Moscow that we used to listen to on our shortwave radios back during what my children call "the olden days."

Today, Voice of Russia hosts Rob Sachs and Jessica Jordan wanted to know what I thought about the recent report by the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive to Congress that said that Russia and China were the major cyber-espionage threats to the U.S.

My view is that it's the Chinese who are perpetrating the vast majority of relentless attacks on the U.S. I also explained that the Russian government would be mistaken to think that the Chinese are only attacking the U.S. They're hitting Russia just as hard.

But I also explained that singling out a couple of countries as major cyber-attackers is more than a little misleading. First, as cyber-attackers go, there's China, and there's everybody else. China has so institutionalized cyber-warfare that they are a menace to businesses and agencies everywhere in the world, not just the U.S.

But that doesn't mean that the nations conducting cyber-attacks are limited to those few mentioned in the report. In fact, every nation that has the capability of conducting cyber-espionage or cyber-warfare has done so or is doing so. Protests by government officials that their respective governments would never do such a thing are simply words. They have no basis in reality.

Just as every nation with the ability to field an army puts it armies through exercises and maneuvers, so too does every nation with the ability to perform cyber-espionage. It would be irresponsible to do otherwise. It's very much like the spies that nations send to find out what's going on in other countries. We send spies to Russia; Russia sends spies to the U.S.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...