China Taiwan Cyberwar

By Alan Nipp

BBC World Service, © 1999 BBC

Transcription of an Interview with D K Matai, Managing Director, mi2g software

Q: Cybercrimes have been effectively used as weapon of war. How serious is the situation at present?

A: During the Kosovan conflict we have seen the rise of internet attacks, and even after the Kosovo conflict came to an end in June we have seen that attacks have taken place between China and Taiwan on both sides. These attacks are excalating around the world and a variety of organisations are being affected.

Q: Are there cases where the hackers have achieved their goal?

A: Yes, there are plenty of websites that have been defaced, plenty of databases that have been damaged or copied, so there are many cases of businesses in the US, the UK, Japan, Germany and the Netherlands that have been disrupted.

Q: In terms of economic losses, how serious is the problem?

A: So far mi2g has chronicled that from hacking losses as well as from viruses developed by hackers - for example the CIH virus was developed by a Taiwanese virus writer - the ExploreZip virus as well as the Melissa virus together costed about $US 7 billion to service worldwide.

Q: Do individuals or businesses have protection against these hackers?

A: So far protection has been mainly to rely on branded firewall products, and what mi2g software is advocating at present is the development of bespoke security architecture whereby the security architecture for each business or large organisation is different from any other. As we are coming back to a medieval-times period where everybody will have to have castle-like bespoke security in cyberspace.

Q: The cyberworld seems very chaotic, no boundaries, no borders. Do you think there should be international law to govern it?

A: Yes, mi2g advocates the development of international laws which can help arbitration between different jurisdictions. Today cyberspace has no boundaries and this is causing a lot of problems especially as there is a lot of trade taking place through electronic commerce.

Q: How serious is the cyberwar going on between China and Taiwan?

A: mi2g software has a very good knowledge of Taiwan's computing abilities, Taiwan has one of the world's largest computer software and hardware manufacturing bases. The computer software programers in Taiwan are world class. Our view is that getting involved in any kind of conflict with the kind of intellectual capacity in Taiwan may prove detrimental.

Q: Which means?

A: We would ask both sides to recognise that any escalation in this conflict may have consequences and fall-out which may be out of control.

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