China has been involved in an awful lot of hacking incidents recently, from the New York Times scandal all the way up to the recent revelations about military hackers. So I suppose that when a new hacking story comes out, it does make some sense that people would suspect China. That’s understandable.
But privately suspecting something and publicly reporting it are two very different things. On the heels of Apple’s announcement that it had also been hacked, many media outlets strongly implied that China was responsible. Others just came right out and said China was involved right in the headline. The problem with that is that it isn’t true. At all.
As I mentioned previously, it’s not unreasonable that people think about China first when they hear a high-profile hacking story, as the country has been involved in a lot of them. And China’s protestations that it doesn’t actively engage in hacking and other forms of cyberwarfare are patently ridiculous. Of course China is trying to hack other governments and foreign countries. But here’s the thing: everyone is trying to hack everyone all the time. In this day and age, there is simply no way that any country big enough to have its own intelligence agency does not also have government-funded web experts looking to attain valuable intelligence through the web via any number of means, including hacking. China may be involved in more hacking than other countries, but it could also just be less good at getting away with it.
Either way, let’s all try not to jump to the conclusion that it was China the next time you hear a hacking story. Or, if you do jump to a conclusion, at least try not to print it in The Atlantic before it has actually been confirmed.