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Who's Been Hacked By China? Better Question Might Be: Who Hasn't?

Feb 21, 2013

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This week's stories about alleged cyberthieves based in China have news outlets chasing related angles. Today's include:

— "Chinese Cyberspies Have Hacked Most Washington Institutions, Experts Say."

According to The Washington Post, if you "start asking security experts which powerful Washington institutions have been penetrated by Chinese cyberspies, and this is the usual answer: almost all of them. The list of those hacked in recent years includes law firms, think tanks, news organizations, human rights groups, contractors, congressional offices, embassies and federal agencies."

— "Some Victims Of Online Hacking Edge Into the Light."

The New York Times writes that "Hackers have hit thousands of American corporations in the last few years, but few companies ever publicly admit it. ... But in the last few weeks more companies have stepped forward. Twitter, Facebook and Apple have all announced that they were attacked by sophisticated cybercriminals. ... The admissions reflect the new way some companies are calculating the risks and benefits of going public."

Those reports follow Wednesday's news that, as The Associated Press says, "the Obama administration announced new efforts to fight the growing theft of American trade secrets, a broad but relatively restrained response to a rapidly emerging global problem that was brought into sharp focus this week by fresh evidence linking cyberstealing to China's military." (Chinese authorities, as NPR's Frank Langfitt has reported, say such attacks are not government-sponsored and that China too is a target of cyberthieves.)

The AP adds that "the administration ... didn't threaten any specific consequences for theft of trade secrets, and no new fines or other trade actions were announced." But it announced "five actions to protect American innovation":

— "Applying diplomatic pressure by senior officials to foreign leaders to discourage theft."

— "Promoting best practices to help industries protect against theft."

— "Enhancing U.S. law enforcement operations to increase investigations and prosecutions."

— "Reviewing U.S. laws to determine if they need to be strengthened to protect against theft."

— "Beginning a public awareness campaign."

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