Nov 17 2007
Evolution of the Red Hacker Alliance
Based on available data, it is the author’s opinion that the Red Hacker Alliance first came into existence in 1998. This was the year that ethnic riots in Jakarta, Indonesia served as a catalyst to bring together existing independent hacker elements and fuse them into a cohesive unit under the banner of nationalism. During this time period, previously independent web sites actively formed connecting links with each other and coordinated attacks against Indonesian government web sites to protest the brutal treatment of ethnic Chinese. Sharp Winner’s comments related to the event demonstrate that this is the earliest appearance of the concept and term Red Hacker:
“A group of patriotic youth active on the net engaged in attacks on Indonesian government web sites, under the alias ‘China Redhackers.’ This patriotic action received a great deal of reporting and praise in the domestic and overseas media. The name China Redhackers began here.”
Chu Tianbi’s historical account claims that it was after the 1999 US bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia that created the alliance and when their first web site appeared:
“The second day after the bombing of the Chinese embassy, the first Chinese Red Hacker web site appeared, and a new type of hacker was born – the Red Hacker.”
While there is room for argument about the conceptualized birth date of the Red Hacker Alliance, Sharp Winner and Chu Tianbi are in agreement that it predates Lion’s founding of the Honker Union of China in 2000. Studying Chu Tianbi’s words carefully also reveals that the alliance is not made up of one entity/web site, he clearly tells us that this was when “the first Chinese Red Hacker web site appeared,” not the only, just the first.
The Years 1995-2006
The years 1995 and 1996 were far too tenuous for the neophyte hackers to be declared anything close to an alliance and there is nothing to suggest that communications and links were taking place with other hackers. Linkage between individual cells must be established in order to satisfy one of our primary preconditions for establishment of the Red Hacker Alliance. The only fixed web site we are told about during this time is Gao Chunhui’s homepage that was dedicated to cracking software code. It is also difficult to cast them ideologically as an alliance in these formative years. Individuals from 1995 to 1996 likely held the same nationalistic views as current members but those views cannot be applied to a shared group mentality. The thinking was still “I” am a Chinese hacker not “we” are patriotic Chinese hackers.
Two key elements that disqualify the year 1997 as the birth date of the Red Hacker Alliance are once again the inability to definitively state that there is unifying nationalism and linkage. We are aware Goodwill has founded the Green Army and that there are at least seven other rudimentary hacker sites operating but little else is known about the relationship between these groups. Wan Tao has also registered the site Chinawill under the name “Voice of the Dragon.” At this point in their history, there has not been that one galvanizing event that would spark their sense of “National Humiliation” and transform them into a collective organization.
By 1998 all the elements that define the current organization are present and functioning. The Jakarta riots have produced unity of spirit, which embodies the Red Hacker Alliance and the “Chinese Hacker Emergency Conference Center” was used as a conduit for communications. The emergency conference center provides us with further proof that additional hacker web sites existed at this time, as it would have been unnecessary to establish it for internal communications among its members. Therefore, we can only presume that the purpose of its construction was for external coordination with outside elements; perhaps the seven rudimentary sites that had been set up in 1997.
From 1999 to 2005, we see an expansion of the Red Hacker Alliance with the addition of the Honker Union of China, the reinvention of Chinawill to China Eagle, Javaphile, and the Ultra Right-Wing Chinese Hackers Opposed to Japan Alliance. Not only are more names added to the roster but the frequency of attacks increases along with the publicity that the group attracts. It is highly likely that the actual number of Chinese hacker sites enlarges well beyond what is reported in the open press during this seven-year period. This is practically certain, given that by the middle of 2005 over 250 web sites were linked directly to the Red Hacker Alliance. What is also likely is that the Chinese hackers themselves are somewhat unaware of the extent and numbers of web sites making up the alliance. No information to date suggests that there has ever been a census performed by the Red Hacker Alliance on the composition of their group.
Hopefully, the arguments presented here will convince readers that this is the evolution of a movement and an organization, that there is merit in understanding the intrinsic nature of the body. Just as the moral contained in the ancient saga of the Blind Men and the Elephant, in which each man touches a different part of his body and comes away with a different view of the character of an elephant, we must look at the whole of a thing to fully understand it.