Date of Award

6-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Social Sciences

Department

Social Sciences

First Reader/Committee Chair

Jeremy Murray

Abstract

China has been home to some of the most prominent hackers and hacker groups of the global community throughout the last decade. In the last ten years, countless attacks globally have been linked to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) or those operating within the PRC. This exploration attempts to investigate the story, ideology, institutions, actions, and motivations of the Chinese hackers collectively, as sub-groups, and as individuals. I will do this using sources ranging from basic news coverage, interviews with experts and industry veterans, secondary reportage, leaked documents from government and private sources, government white papers, legal codes, blogs and microblogs, a wide array of materials from the darker corners of the online world, and many other materials. The work will begin to sketch for the reader some of the general and specific aspects of the shadowy world of cybercrime and hacker culture in China in recent years. One of the most prevalent beliefs is that the Chinese government is in fact the one responsible, whether directly or by sponsor, for cyber-attacks on foreign systems. My careful analysis has revealed is not always the case, or at least more complex than simply labeling the group as a state actor. At the root of these attacks is a social movement of "hacktivists," a patriotic sub-culture of Chinese hackers. It is incorrect to allege that all attacks are performed by state-sponsored individuals or groups, because there are many individuals and groups that are motivated by other factors.