Apparently, the US is willing to recruit any ally it can get in its digital battles — including countries that are frequently its adversaries. Sources for both the Associated Press and the New York Times claim that American officials have asked China to implement a block that would “cripple” North Korea’s ability to launch cyberattacks like the one that hobbled Sony Pictures. Unfortunately, this request may be more than a little optimistic. China reportedly agrees that the attacks aren’t cool, but it hasn’t promised help.
The Obama administration has sought China’s help in recent days in blocking North Korea’s ability to launch cyberattacks, the first steps toward the “proportional response” President Obama vowed to make the North pay for the assault on Sony Pictures — and as part of a campaign to issue a broader warning against future hacking, according to senior administration officials. “What we are looking for is a blocking action, something that would cripple their efforts to carry out attacks,” one official said. So far, the Chinese have not responded. Their cooperation would be critical, since virtually all of North Korea’s telecommunications run through Chinese-operated networks. It is unclear that China would choose to help, given tensions over computer security between Washington and Beijing since the Justice Department in May indicted five hackers working for the Chinese military on charges of stealing sensitive information from American companies.