The following post was written by Cicy Wang for New America Media’s EthnoBlog.  See her original post here.

Chinese and Vietnamese hackers have started a cyber war over the territorial dispute on the ownership of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea [officially known as the East Sea in Vietnam]. According to Global Times, a website under the operation of the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry was hacked in June. The cyber attack has disabled all the links on that website and placed the China’s flag at the center of the page. The article said the hackers left their cyber names “3King” and “Xiao Lan” on the website and claimed to be from Yancheng (northeastern Jiangsu Province).

Apart from the flag, hackers also left Chinese phrases like “Spratly Islands Belong to China” on the website with China’s national anthem “March of the Volunteers” playing over and over again. The article noted that Chinese hackers invading into other countries’ government websites were not uncommon, especially if those countries were in some kind of dispute with China. For example, in 2010 August, the Chinese flag appeared on the Philippine’s government website asking for an apology after Chinese tourist hostages were killed in Manila. In October of the same year, the government website of Japan’s Shimane Prefecture was also hacked, with Chinese characters insulting Japan.

The Vietnamese media has also been reporting on those cyber attacks. According to Thanh Nien News, 200 Vietnamese websites were attacked in June, and 10 percent of those websites were managed by government agencies. For example, 20 websites under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development were hacked. A source from the ministry’s network security supporter said that they have identified that the Internet protocols (IP) of computers attacking the portal were from China. According to some Chinese bloggers, they believe the attacks started by Honker Union, a mysterious hacker organization in China formed by young people with sophisticated computer skills. However, the Vietnamese also began their retaliation. Several Chinese websites were also under attacks by Vietnamese hackers, one of them was posting an image with a Vietnamese sailor holding a machine gun with English and Vietnamese words saying “Paracel Islands  and Spratly Islands Belong to Vietnam” and Chinese characters saying that “Vietnam People are Willing to Protect the Sea, the Sky and the Country.”

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  1. As with comparing Vietnam with any of China’s military capabilities, Vietnam is hopelessly outmatched. Sheer volume of people and investments in China’s IT and cyber-security people, technologies, and educational institutions overwhelming for any country in the region. Plus, Vietnam’s S&T is at least a decade behind China. Hey Vietnam–I bet there are alot of Viet Kieu who can help—but only if you stop targeting cyber-dissidents. Hanoi needs to figure out who the real threat is—it ain’t Little Saigon–we don’t have ballistic missile submarines on Hainan Island.

  2. China has hundred of millions of people using internet so the level of internet-intergrated into social-economy in China is much bigger than in Vietnam. It does mean that if VN hackers hack one system successfully the volume of damage will be bigger than the system (similar important level) that  Chiness hackers hack Vn system.

    Now websites in Vietnam normally is just information gateway, mean, a site that deliver announcement or information to its people so generally speaking they did not pay enough attention to internet security for their website. That the reason why thousands of websites was hacked. Some hackers are kids. The result probably drives you to the idea there is no hope for VN to defence? The question here is wrong.

    First of all, The chiness hackers is not as great as people talk to them. I have talked to a guy in HAV, an UG forum and they said that the level of Chiness hackers is NOT far exceed level of hackers in VN. For thousands of sites was hacked, many of those site is so simple and entry level hackers can do that. But some site that apply normal security, Chiness hackers hacked only index page, mean Database, admin panel.. still good. Many of them was not hacked and they have to use DDOS, that mean last temporarily, and for good servers system and with Cisco routers security system, we can defense the attack.

    Secondly, the problem here is there is far exceed of the number of hackers in China than in Vietnam, so if we consider they are the same level, Chiness has the advantage over the cyber war.

    Moreover, internet infrastructure in China is much lager, bigger than in Vietnam. In case cyber was happen, they can use much bigger # of PCs to attack Vietnam.

    But here is the things, with building a good security site, Vn can defence the attack or make the attack less severe.

    When both site attack each other, we both use zoombies (PC that got virus affected) to attack so VN hackers still can use zoombie from China to attack the chiness. Most of PC in VN and China using illegal  Window operation system so it is easier to become zoombies.

    To conclude, I just wanna to say, we dont fear, if we lost 10, they lost at least 8 or even more than 10 cos  the problem for Chiness system, if occur, will be more severe than for Vietnamese system.

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