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Germany’s cyber espionage allegations are an old trick | Updated: 2017-12-11 20:37

Germany’s intelligence agency BfV has claimed that China is using fake LinkedIn profiles as a means of spying on German officials and politicians, alleging it is part of a “broad-based attempt to infiltrate in particular parliaments, ministries and government agencies”, as BfV head Hans-Georg Maassen put it.

That is a very serious allegation, and BfV needs to provide evidence to support it.

Instead, BfV seems to be just “giving a dog a bad name to hang him”, since there has been no verified damage found, no suspects arrested, no specific victims identified.

It is not the first time that China has been singled out by Germany as a scapegoat for activities in cyberspace. Earlier this year, reports about a wave of attacks by Chinese hackers on Germany’s high-tech companies hit the headlines, with BfV saying in May it had evidence that a Chinese hacker group was behind the hacking campaign.

Sensational enough, but all the reports and claims were later found to be void of any proof.

And this is an old trick. Germany is not the first country to point accusing fingers at China without any evidence to support its allegations; it is also a favorite pastime of the United States.

Which is somewhat ironic since there is evidence to show that the US engages in cyberspying, including against Germany, thanks to the revelations of the whistle-blower Edward Snowden, who leaked classified information from the US National Security Agency.

And BfV may do better by starting its investigation this time with the US military, since there have been reports it has been developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations. This may yield more substantial results, given Uncle Sam’s track record.

China too is the victim of cyberattacks, and it is seeking to enhance its own cybersecurity by strengthening its finance, energy, telecommunications and transport information infrastructure.

However, it believes cyber crimes are a common enemy of the international community and has called for deeper cooperation among nations to build an international cyber community with a shared future.

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