Hackers: ‘Wen’ It’s Time to Protect the Brand
Energetic entrepreneurs innovating. Job-creating small businesses. Free ranging capitalists especially free from government’s interference while growing a free market economy. The contributions from the one percent. Themes raised before and during the U.S. Presidential election last year and resonating today.
Big government; small government. More effective regulations; get-out-of-the-way regulations.
As America slowly climbs out of its economic malaise, some people point to another country with its top-of-the-world GNP; where billionaires, millionaires and new ventures are sprouting faster and more numerous than a field of dandelions; and where infrastructure improvements put utter shame to the crumbling bridges, highways and power plants of our spacious skies, amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties.
No need to remind ourselves that the People’s Republic of China is run by one – that’s the Communist – party, of course, when spotlighting that country’s accomplishments.
Which gets me around to the recent months-long hacking of computer systems at The New York Times (NYT)and, to a lesser degree, theWall Street Journal (WSJ).
Everyone except the Chinese knows Chinese were doing the hacking. But this time, the motive wasn’t corporate espionage or military spying.
It was a much better reason: to protect Grandpa Wen.
A populist and reformer, labeled “the People’s Premier,” and who yearns for smaller government even though his government is the biggest in the world, Wen Jiabao, China’s premier of the state council of the People’s Republic of China until a new guy is named this month, seems to be at the heart of the recent hacking hoedown.
Wen, it seemed, has absorbed solid strategies of some Western capitalists, politicians and the Kardashians. Spread your influential and all those yuans will flow to the relatives, wife, son, business acquaintances and all their hangers-ons, ah, friends. But don’t enrich your own pockets, at least not yet. That politburo can be a fickle group with a decidedly mean streak.
Grandpa Wen’s wife is a billionaire — jewelry and gems, you know. His mom, son, daughter, younger brother, two brothers-in-law, a sister-in-law, daughter-in-law and the parents of his son’s wife all are millionaires. Playing old tricks and new ventures and working the greased backdoor of government regulations, the Family has amassed a portfolio of insurance, technology and real estate ventures, often hidden behind six degrees of Kevin Bacon relationships. Big money moguls from Hong Kong to Singapore to Hollywood trip over their own money to throw it in big bundles at one or another of the Family.
The deals flow swifter than the Yangtze River.
Everything seemed to be under control (not hard if you run China) until some snotty journalists at The New York Times (NYT), with some additional reporting by the WSJ, dug up sources to help them chart the Wen relationships, connections, businesses and money more clearly than anyone did during the 2012 U.S. election and its own PACs, hedge funds, celebrity contributions and offshore accounts.
Same day when most newspaper readers skipped the three page with charts feature in the Times, China promised “consequences” will follow.
And they did. Not in terms of a lawsuit or TV ad campaign but months of hacking into those data-filled NYTand WSJcomputers. Taking over some U.S. university computers, a common Chinese ploy, the attack was on – and soon someone out there had all the newspaper employee passwords. The goal: to identify the Chinese homeland sources who spilled Grandpa Wen’s Family beans.
Ironically, the mission centered on protecting the premier’s “brand” and reputation.
Not so much to protect his country, it is thought Wen was more concerned with his out-of-office influence among the new folks taking over, more conservative than he acted and who enjoy dirtying up yesterday’s icons to make themselves look better today. And remember, Wen has got a lot of mouths, a whole heck of a lot of mouths, to feed or keep shut.
A nice little sidebar to the hacking tale: the Timesdidn’t run to Homeland Security for help. Its service provider, AT&T, set off a first-day alarm. And then in came a private firm, Mandiant, which found evidence that the Chinese hackers had stolen emails, contacts and files, while maintaining a “short list” of journalists for repeated attacks. The Mandiant operatives threw out the hackers. Although everyone involved believes they will return sooner or later.