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People wait to board buses in South Korea's capital, Seoul. 35 million South Koreans fell victim to theft of personal information this morning.  (Source: AFP)

The attacks are believed to have originated from China. The Chinese are hacking foreign businesses at will, and nations like South Korea and the U.S. appear helpless to respond.  (Source: Venture Beat)
Chinese authorities have not yet agreed to cooperate

There's an elephant in the room, when it comes to internet attacks, and that elephant is China.  While America once was fearful of China's communist philosophies, today the Asian giant poses a far greater threat in its economic success.

China is home to some of the world's most sophisticated hackers, many of which are given a virtual green light to attack foreign governments and businesses, in attacks that assist China's government and Chinese businesses.  It's a well known fact, but everyone is too afraid to try to stand up to the Asian nation, as it hold large amounts of debt, as well as enjoys control of much of the world's rare mineral resources and manufacturing.

South Korea has become the latest to reportedly bear the brunt of Chinese cyber aggression.  The Korea Communications Commission (South Korea's equivalent of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission) says that hackers this morning attacked Nate portal and Cyworld blogging sites, both operated by SK Communications Comp., Ltd. (KDQ:066270).

The hackers reportedly made off with personal information from an astounding 35 million users.  The stolen information includes -- in some cases -- phone numbers, e-mail addresses, names, and coded data of users.  The attacks are believed to have originated from China.

South Korea, like the U.S., is struggling to protect its businesses from foreign attacks.  In April, Nonghyup, a large South Korean commercial bank, suffered an attack which was believed to have been sourced from North Korea.  Then in May, South Korea's Hyundai Capital, which is owned by Hyundai Motor Company (SEO:005380) and General Electric Comp. (GE) subsidiary, GE Capital International, suffered a similar breach. 

Meanwhile in mid-May in the U.S. top defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) was the victim of a sophisticated cyberintrusion, which was believed to have originated in China.

The U.S. government now says that cyberattacks can be construed as an act of war, if they cause real world death or destruction.  However, the U.S., like South Korea, has done little -- officially, at least -- to respond when cyber-savvy nations like China threatened companies like Google Inc. (GOOG) for speaking out about cyberattacks.

South Korean officials are currently investigating the massive SK Comms breach, and are not yet working with Chinese officials.

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RE: Are we at China's mercy?
By Solandri on 7/28/2011 3:57:41 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is, being a totalitarian regime, China is able to hold onto its secrets much more tightly without people getting upset (c.f. Wikileaks). By picking the low-hanging fruit, these hacker groups unintentionally introduce a bias in their attacks - against democracies and in favor of totalitarian regimes.

Unfortunately, in order to recognize this, one has to take responsibility for inaction. If you stand by and do nothing while a woman is being raped, do you bear any responsibility for the rape? Most people feel they shouldn't be held responsible for their inaction - it's none of their business, and they didn't want to get involved. Consequently, in their minds they see attacking U.S. interests as a good thing (because the U.S. is corrupt), while not attacking Chinese interests doesn't count (even though the Chinese are more corrupt and stand to gain from U.S. interests being attacked).

I think this is partly cultural too. The emphasis on individualism and personal responsibility in the West reinforces the notion that you you bear no responsibility for not acting. This distinction is not so clear in Eastern cultures.

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