US thinks retaliation is best policy against China

The government said if a company is hacked by China, it should hack back

The US government has revealed it thinks businesses should hack China back if the company is attacked and data is stolen.

The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission has released a report that says attacks on US companies have cost them tens of billions of dollars as they try and fix the problems. Additionally, lost sales have had a big financial impact due to the reputational issues caused by data loss.

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Although there's no evidence the attacks have originated from China or have been carried out by Chinese attackers -and the country's government has denied attacks on US governmental departments such as the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) - the US government thinks more stringent action must be taken.

"The Chinese government appears to believe that it has more to gain than to lose from its cyber-espionage and attack campaign," the report said. "So far, it has acquired valuable technology, trade secrets, and intelligence...the costs imposed have been minimal compared to the perceived benefit...the campaign is likely to continue and may well escalate."

The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said the US' response so far has been inadequate, while the US as a whole is ill-prepared to defend itself against cyber-espionage.

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"This report about investigating the ability to hack back I think is less about Congress wanting the ability to hack back and more about clarifying, 'These are the rules, this is the line - you cross this line, this is the retaliation you will get," security expert Sean Sullivan told the BBC.

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However, it's still not possible to confirm for sure whether China was responsible for the attacks, which means companies may be unnecessarily targeting the country in return.

Rolling out such practices of retaliation will be normalising the situation to "give people a firmer handle on international norms and what they should expect," Sullivan said.

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