Jim Dunnigan explores the world of semi-official Chinese hackers in the Shadow War:
So far, none of the Chinese attacks, as far as anyone can tell, were much more than a nuisance. But year by year, the attackers have shown more skill. Now it is pretty certain that the Chinese are formally organizing some of these “patriotic hackers.” By maintaining the myth that these young Internet users are operating independently, the government can unleash these kids on any nation without being tagged as a warmonger. This deception won’t stand much scrutiny. American hackers have been able to back track some of the Chinese attacks to Chinese government computers. If the Chinese were on the ball and well organized, they would not have allowed hackers to use government computers. Or at the very least, they would have made sure the hackers knew how to cover their tracks.
The Pentagon is finally getting serious about computer security — but also about having a credible computer deterrent. We’re more vulnerable than China, because our military is a lot more wired than theirs.
But that’s changing, and I doubt Beijing wants to be on the receiving end of what our “kids” could do.