China has struck back fiercely against allegations that it’s engaged in hacking. Through its state-run media, it denies targeting the Gmail accounts of US government officials, US military personnel, and Chinese political activists.
Last time China was accused of hacking Gmail accounts – back in early 2010 – it also fiercely denied such allegations. If the Chinese are accused of hacking again – for example, for the tenacious attack against Lockheed Martin – it’ll probably continue to deny all wrongdoing.
Should we believe China’s denials? The answer is probably not.
The Chinese government has no problem making false categorical denials. For example, many Chinese officials – from lowly spokespeople to Premier Wen Jiabao himself – repeatedly deny that the Chinese yuan is undervalued. They deny it confidently, emphatically, shamelessly, and all the while keeping a straight face.
It’s a fact, however, that the yuan is blatantly undervalued. Any economist with an ounce of objectivity will tell you that. The yuan is a controlled currency, which by definition is manipulated. If it were fully convertible, it would be valued a lot higher.
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So the fact that the Chinese government is emphatic in its denial shouldn’t carry any weight.
Of course, the Chinese could be telling the truth. It could be that rogue hackers perpetrated hacks against companies like Lockheed Martin and people in the US military. Also, it’s not beyond US politicians to try to hack each other; the Watergate scandal proved such mentality exists.
However, no one besides the Chinese government would hack Chinese political activists.
Moreover, China has a history of Internet censorship and cracking down on political dissidents, so hacking political activists doesn’t sound out of character.
On the other hand, it’s less likely that the US government and Google are trying to frame the Chinese government and make it look bad.
Proof that China was behind the lacking may never surface; the data may be erased and the parties involved may choose not to share the details with the public.
However, given the facts we do know, it’s reasonably to deduce that the Chinese government is indeed behind at least some of the cyber attacks.