Security

After plenty of squabbling, U.S. and China agree to hold talks over hacking

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We’ve reached a point where the U.S. government has no problem directly accusing China of hacking into American computer systems — so it’s probably time for a sit down.

The United States and China have both agreed to talks over cybersecurity and espionage attempts, the New York Times reports. President Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping will kick things off with an informal meeting in Rancho Mirage, California next month.

China hasn’t admitted to any U.S. hacking at this point, despite evidence from security experts and the Pentagon. “China is using its computer network exploitation capability to support intelligence collection against the U.S. diplomatic, economic, and defense industrial base sectors that support U.S. national defense programs,” a Pentagon report said earlier this month.

Just last week, China was also blamed for a shockingly extensive hack on Australia’s spy, defense, and foreign affairs agencies (among others). Google ended up moving its search engine out of mainland China and to Hong Kong in response to cyberattacks, and it later singled out Chinese hackers as the source of sophisticated attacks against White House officials and human rights representatives.

U.S. officials don’t expect the talks to lead to any dramatic solutions immediately, according to the NYT, but they could serve as a way to set up some good behavior standards between the two countries. While we’ve had plenty of time to determine rules of engagement for warfare and espionage in the real world, things are less clear in the cyber arena.

Chinese flag photo via Shutterstock