Cyber attacks: Cisco appears to embrace China while Google fights China

According to Cisco, "It is extremely unlikely for a commercial entity to spy on communications on behalf of its government."

This week Cisco appeared to embrace China. Jan. 11, 2010:

"Given the size and growth of the Chinese economy and our significant commitments to our China business, we believe designating Greater China as its own theater marks an important next step in our strategy."

While Google chose to fight China: Jan. 12, 2010:

"In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a security incident--albeit a significant one--was something quite different. First, this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses--including the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors--have been similarly targeted. These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China."

Nov. 22, 2009: Seow Hiong Goh - Executive Director of Cisco's Global Policy & Government Affairs for Asia Pacific blogged:

"Sovereignty and national security have always been key concerns for national governments. It is counter-intuitive to restrict telecom operators to purchase and use equipment for network rollout from only domestic technology providers, whether through procurement preferences or mandating domestic standards that differ from international norms. Security technology today such as encryption is so powerful and easy to use that even if the intent to intercept was present, it would be almost impossible to do so –- it is a balance of whether the cost of trying to break into that secure communication channel is worth the value that would be gained out of learning the content. Commercial foreign entities that own and operate the networks are typically separate and run distinctly from the government of the country they are from, and it is extremely unlikely for a commercial entity to spy on communications on behalf of its government."

Interestingly and curiously, a month before Cisco's blog above, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (which monitors, investigates, and submits to congress an annual report on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China) specifically concluded in its 2009 Report to the U.S. Congress - Page 193 (15 of 15): Oct. 28, 2009

"The quantity of malicious computer activities against the United States increased in 2008 and is rising sharply in 2009; much of this activity appears to orginate in China."
"The direct attribution of such activities targeting the United States presents challenges due to hackers’ ability to conceal their locations. Nonetheless, a significant and increasing body of circumstantial and forensic evidence strongly indicates the involvement of Chinese state and state-supported entities."
"The Chinese government has institutionalized many of its capabilities for computer network operations within elements of the People’s Liberation Army. The PRC is also recruiting from its growing population of technically skilled people, including those from the private sector, to increase its cyber capabilities. It is recruiting skilled cyber operators from information technology firms and computer science programs into the ranks of numerous Information Warfare Militia units."
"China’s peacetime computer exploitation efforts are primarily focused on intelligence collection against U.S. targets and Chinese dissident groups abroad."
"In the early stages of a conflict, the PLA would employ computer network operations against opposition government and military information systems."
"Critical U.S. infrastructure is vulnerable to malicious cyber activity. Chinese military doctrine calls for exploiting these vulnerabilities in the case of a conflict."

Perhaps the above 2009 USCC Report to the U.S. Congress does not matter to Cisco CEO John Chambers. And why do I say that? Well, because Chambers specifically stated: Nov. 1, 2007

"One thing a technology company should never do is fall in love with one political party or one form of government. We don't provide any unique capabilities to any government, we will not enable any organization uniquely, including our own U.S. government."

So who's better at financially rewarding its own shareholders, Cisco or Google? Cisco Shareholders vs. Google Shareholders (Who's winning?) Source: Yahoo! Finance Related stories: Network World - Cisco aims at China market with restructuring Network World - Google attack part of widespread spying effort Network World - Google may pull out of China after cyberattacks The Wall Street Journal - Ethical Conflicts for Firms in China The Wall Street Journal - China Expands Cyberspying in U.S., Report Says


What's your take, do you agree with Cisco CEO John Chambers that one thing a technology company should never do is fall in love with one political party or one form of government?

Also, is Google wrong or right for fighting China's cyber attacks?

BradReese.Com Cisco Refurbished - Enabling Affordable Cisco Networks Check with us, when you have failed Cisco equipment. We repair Cisco at the component level. Contact: Brad Reese

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