A watershed moment came in January 2010, when the tech titan Google announced that its networks had been hacked and that the intrusions originated in China. The intruders made off with valuable source code and targeted the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists and dissidents, the company announced.
In a new book, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt says China is the world’s “most sophisticated and prolific” hacker, adding: “It’s fair to say we’re already living in an age of state-led cyberwar, even if most of us aren’t aware of it.”
In recognition of the growing problem, the State Department has elevated the issue to be part of its strategic security dialogue with China. Within the past year, the Justice Department has set up a program to train 100 prosecutors to bring cases related to cyber-intrusions sponsored by foreign governments.
In many ways, the moves are a response to what experts have described as the government’s earlier passivity in tackling the problem.