China and Russia are displaying numerous instances of a new phenomenon; cyber-nationalism.
This new disease manifests itself when an event, or government propaganda,
stirs up nationalistic feelings among many Internet users. There then follows
much chatter on message boards, email, messaging and so on. This quickly
evolves into the organizing of online vigilantes. Nationalistic hackers proceed
to do damage to any available target of these nationalistic feelings. Often
there isn't a target, as in the case of a natural disaster, where the mobilized
net users concentrate on helping out. But when the news event involves another
nation, or person, there follows hacking attacks, of varying degrees of
intensity, against the designated "enemy."
governments in Russia and China have both "guided" this ire at
approved targets. But since China is still a tightly (more so than Russia)
controlled police state, there is also the risk of the enraged cyber patriots
turning on the Communist Party. This has already happened a few times, usually
in response to government corruption or incompetence. This explains why China
spends so much on software, hardware and staff to gain some control over who
uses the Internet inside China. Obviously, the ultimate defense against
uncontrolled cyber-nationalism against the government, is to pull the plug on
the Internet. That's a very short term solution, because so much of the economy
depends on the Internet. Moreover, there would be a major backlash over this
As long as
China is a communist police state, with a large and growing (half a billion
users in a few years, they will remain vulnerable to a revolution that gets
started, not in the streets, but on the net.
If you want
to experience the Internet as users inside China do, go to www.chinachannel.hk.