- - Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Here’s something to not think about shortly before bed: Your sensitive personal data is probably sitting on a server somewhere in Beijing — a server that is the property of the People’s Liberation Army, i.e. the military wing of the Chinese Communist Party.

“In one of the largest data breaches in history four Chinese hackers broke into the computer networks of Atlanta-based Equifax, stealing 145 million Americans’ names, birth dates, and social security numbers, the driver’s license numbers of at least 10 million Americans, and the credit card numbers of about 200,000 U.S. citizens, according to a nine-count federal indictment returned last week,” Voice of America reported this week. Those data can be used for any manner of nefarious deeds, including blackmail and outright theft.

The Chinese military has long been implicated in cyberattacks on U.S. governmental, business and academic institutions. But the scale of the alleged Equifax hack is startling and far beyond anything the PLA has been implicated in previously.

China, for its part, denies the charges — just as it had denied the mass starvation that occured during the Great Leap Forward, the pillaging of Tibet, the oppression of the Uighur Muslim minority, and just a month or so ago, the spread of a mysterious new coronavirus emanating from the central city of Wuhan. Let’s just say Beijing’s protestations of “we didn’t do it” leave us a bit skeptical. O.J. Simpson “didn’t do it” either.

The Equifax hack is part of the low scale conflict that the United States and China are embroiled in — one that spans economics, culture, and perhaps most alarmingly, the cyber realm. Equifax itself bears some responsibility here: It should have done more to secure such sensitive data. (Perhaps by contracting with Hillary Clinton’s people to build a hack-proof private basement server?)

But, as in all crimes, the ultimate responsibility lies with the aggressor. And that appears to be Beijing.

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