How Edward Snowden Helped China Hack the US
Kurt Eichenwald’s piece on China’s cyber war against the US and the disruptive influence of Edward Snowden’s leaks is a must-read: How Edward Snowden Escalated Cyber War.
China’s protests that it did not engage in hacking were waved aside by Washington, which pushed forward with a plan to publicly confront its leaders. In May, Donilon flew to Beijing to meet senior government officials there and set the framework for a summit between Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping; Donilon and other American officials made it clear they would demand that hacking be a prime topic of conversation. By finally taking the step of putting public - and, most likely, international - pressure on the Chinese to rein in their cyber tactics, the administration believed it was about to take a critical step in taming one of the biggest threats to America’s economic security.
But it didn’t happen. The administration’s attempt to curb China’s assault on American business and government was crippled - perhaps forever, experts say - by a then-unknown National Security Agency contractor named Edward Snowden.
Snowden’s clandestine efforts to disclose thousands of classified documents about NSA surveillance emerged as the push against Chinese hacking intensified. He reached out to reporters after the public revelations about China’s surveillance of the Times’s computers and the years of hacking by Unit 61398 into networks used by American businesses and government agencies. On May 24, in an email from Hong Kong, Snowden informed a Washington Post reporter to whom he had given documents that the paper had 72 hours to publish them or he would take them elsewhere; had the Post complied, its story about American computer spying would have run on the day Donilon landed in Beijing to push for Chinese hacking to be on the agenda for the presidential summit.
I’m sure I’m not the only one to notice that many of the big breaking news stories based on Snowden’s stolen documents are being released to coincide with diplomatic events like this one.