Throw away the image of an “army of Chinese hackers” goose-stepping in straight ranks and hell-bent on hacking anyone who stands in their way. Instead, substitute an image more like the wild, wild West with gunslingers taking the law into their own hands, bullying, competing, winning and defending their territories. And the Sheriff is nowhere in sight. This isn’t something that anybody’s going to get under control any time soon.
The loose end this article, China’s Hacker Army, in Foreign Policy (March 3, 2009) leaves open is that since the Chinese government isn’t really controlling and coordinating the hacking, there’s something else going on that we don’t understand yet. Is someone paying for the spoils the hackers bring back from their quests? Are they doing this for fame, not fortune? Is it perhaps free-enterprise with the goods being sold to the highest bidder?
”There are many actors, some directed by the government and others tolerated by it…”
“But the fact that these hackers’ interests overlap with Chinese policy does not mean they are working on behalf of Beijing, and indeed many of their activities suggest no government interference at all.” … “An unwritten rule holds that freelance hackers are left alone as long as they target foreign sites and companies. Once they go after information inside China, the government cracks down. For a hacker interested in self-preservation, the choice is clear.”
“Ultimately, a loose connection between Beijing intelligence operatives and patriotic hackers is more troubling than a strong one. Governments operate under constraints. Gangs of young men — as the United States has learned the hard way — don’t.”