This post begins with a discussion of the October 2018 U.S. indictment of nine Chinese citizens on charges of “Internet-based espionage.” The nine worked with an Internet hacking operation based in China’s Jiansu Province. The group targeted “technical data on high-performance jet engines.” But the post also discusses the origins of China’s enormous “Internet Army.”
Internal and external espionage is one of the main reasons the Chinese government took an interest in the Internet back in the 1990s. This resulted in nearly two decades of effort to mobilize the Chinese people as an Internet army. It was in the late 1990s that the Chinese Defense Ministry established the “NET Force.” This was initially a research organization, which was to measure China’s vulnerability to attacks via the Internet. Soon this led to examining the vulnerability of other countries, especially the United States, Japan, and South Korea (all nations that were heavy Internet users). NET Force has continued to grow, aided by plenty of volunteers.
In 1999, NET Force organized an irregular civilian militia, the “Red Hackers Union” (RHU). These are several hundred thousand patriotic Chinese programmers and Internet engineers who wished to assist the motherland and put the hurt, via the Internet, on those who threaten or insult China.
Read the whole thing.