Behind the façade of diplomacy and uneasy economic cooperation, the U.S. and China are engaged in a new cold war. The combatants are hackers, and the fields of battle are the computer networks of government agencies and massive corporations.
Congressman Mike Rogers has been trying to sell you on this idea for a long time.
“China’s economic espionage has reached an intolerable level,” he said at a congressional hearing in October 2011. Rogers didn’t call for any new laws at the time, though he did allude to “legislation” that could help fight this problem. And he made it very clear who the enemy is.
“Beijing is waging a massive trade war on us all,” he added.
China is constantly hacking U.S. corporations, according to Rogers, and it hurts American businesses when that information is passed on to competitors overseas. He talked quickly, clearly, and elliptically, cloaking his words in military-intelligence speak. The “intelligence community” had information about “advanced foreign cyber-threats,” he said.
Rogers, a former FBI agent, is the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee. The committee’s job is to oversee agencies like the FBI and the NSA in intelligence gathering. There was an air of “trust us, this is worse than you think” at the hearing: General Michael Hayden, former head of both the NSA and the CIA, told reporters afterward that “this information is horribly overclassified inside the government.” It was as if the intelligence community wanted everyone to know how bad things had gotten, but it was prohibited from saying so.
Before delving too deeply, Rogers thanked three “witnesses” for help in his report. One of those was Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity consulting firm Mandiant, who, Rogers said, “deals with the consequences of advanced cyber-espionage against American companies every day.”
A month later, Rogers introduced his solution, the controversial Cyber Intelligence Security Protection Act (CISPA) in the House for the first time.