No Other Nation Has Anything Like It

China continues to expand its already enormous Internet Army. The latest effort is ordering companies to organize their Internet savvy employees into a cyber-militia, and inspire these geeks to find ways to protect the firm’s networks. In practice, many companies just tell all males under 30 that they have volunteered. Less publicized is the training given to some of these company militias on how to carry out Internet based espionage. The understanding is that there much less risk if this capability is only used against foreign firms.
All this is the result of 13 years of effort. It was in the late 1990s that the Chinese Defense Ministry established the “NET Force.” This was initially a research organization, which was to measure China’s vulnerability to attacks via the Internet. Soon this led to examining the vulnerability of other countries, especially the United States, Japan and South Korea (all nations that were heavy Internet users). NET Force has continued to grow.
In 1999, NET Force organized an irregular civilian militia; the “Red Hackers Union” (RHU). These are several hundred thousand patriotic Chinese programmers and Internet engineers who wished to assist the motherland, and put the hurt, via the Internet, on those who threaten or insult China. The RHU began spontaneously (in response to American bombs accidentally hitting the Chinese embassy in Serbia), but the government gradually assumed some control, without turning the voluntary organization into another bureaucracy. Various ministries have liaison officers who basically keep in touch with what the RHU is up to (mostly the usual geek chatter), and intervene only to “suggest” that certain key RHU members back off from certain subjects or activities. Such “suggestions” carry great weight in China, where people who misbehave on the web are very publicly prosecuted and sent to jail. For those RHU opinion-leaders and ace hackers that cooperate, there are all manner of benefits for their careers, not to mention some leniency if they get into some trouble with the authorities. Many government officials fear the RHU, believing that it could easily turn into a “counter-revolutionary force.” So far, the Defense Ministry and NET Force officials have assured the senior politicians that they have the RHU under control.

http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htiw/articles/20111102.aspx

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