Warfare in the 21st century no longer solely utilizes heavy artillery and fatigue-clad men and women. Rather, battles are also waged on a new frontier: the Internet, where cyberterrorism and hacks have become a very different, but equally concerning threat to our national security. In recent years, China has repeatedly come under fire for its alleged involvement in cyberattacks and spying against the U.S. government, but lately, experts say that the rate of such incidents has actually decreased. The timing of the announcement coincides serendipitously with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s impending visit to the United States on Sept. 24, where the two leaders are rumored to be discussing a cybersecurity treaty.
According to a recent Reuters report, “major intrusions” committed by Chinese hackers in American computer systems seem to have waned in the last few months. “The pace of new breaches feels like it’s tempering,” Kevin Mandia, founder of Mandiant, a company that investigates corporate breaches, told the news source. “In my gut, I feel like the Chinese and the U.S. over the next couple of years are going to figure this out.”
Despite the optimism displayed by private sector experts, government officials have remained mum on the subject, with the FBI declining to comment late last week. The issue of cybersecurity has been a point of contention in political negotiations between the two powerful nations, and in the recent GOP debate, China’s supposed role in recent attacks even drew the suggestion that American leaders cancel the upcoming meeting with President Xi Jinping. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker insisted, “When it comes to China, why are we giving an official state visit to a country that’s been involved in a massive cyberattack against the United States. That’s not just a visit, it’s a 21-gun salute on the south lawn of the White House. That just doesn’t make any sense.”
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, on the other hand, disagreed. “We need to be strong against China. We should use offensive tactics as it relates to cybersecurity to send a deterrent signal to China,” he noted. “There should be stiffer sanctions than what President Obama has proposed. There’s many other tools than we have without canceling a dinner. That’s not gonna change anything.”
But hopefully, if the rate of attacks really has gone down, then maybe things are changing already.