According to The New York Times, “The decision came after the administration concluded that the hacking attack was so vast in scope and ambition that the usual practices for dealing with traditional espionage cases did not apply.”
America’s options range from the largely symbolic to something with more sting, but in almost any conceivable scenario the Chinese could escalate and initiate a cyber war that could be enormously costly and dangerous for all parties involved. We could expel their known spies operating in the U.S, but certainly they could do the same to us. We could impose economic sanctions, but Chinese countersanctions against U.S. firms struggling to gain inroads into their lucrative markets could be fatal to those efforts.
“Senior officials told the paper that they felt cyberattacks targeting the U.S. would continue to escalate unless the government was able to create costs for attackers, which would curb future security breaches, and that the scope of the most recent attack demanded a response,” reported the International Business Times
A senior administration official said, “One of the conclusions we’ve reached is that we need to be a bit more public about our responses, and one reason is deterrence.” Most Americans are likely to agree with this sentiment believing that we must take some significant and public action in an effort to deter other would-be nation-state hacker organizations.
James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, director of the National Security Agency and commander of the military’s Cyber Command have indicated their belief that these kinds of attacks will continue until such time that the U.S. can take actions that display our willingness to retaliate in a meaningful way, according to The Times.
Of all the options for retaliation that were reportedly discussed, a favorite is one that involves finding a way to breach the so-called great firewall, the complex network of censorship and control that the Chinese government keeps in place to suppress dissent inside the country. The Times says the idea would be to demonstrate to the Chinese leadership that the one thing they value most — keeping absolute control over the country’s political dialogue — could be at risk if they do not moderate attacks on the United States.
Many Americans believe that unless we are willing to stand up and let it be known that the U.S. will not tolerate attacks against our computer systems and networks, especially those that involve the exfiltration of Personally Identifiable Information (PII), even if we face painful consequences, these types of attacks will only continue to grow in size, scope, and frequency.
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