The so-called ‘Aurora’ hack of US company Google and others was fairly unprecedented, or at least hearing about it was. That US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has publically upbraided China for the affair counts as some kind of turning point in the history of hacking by nation states.

We have never quite been here before but we will find ourselves here more frequently in future.

“In an interconnected world an attack on one nation’s networks can be an attack on all,” Clinton is reported to have said in a Washington speech. “By reinforcing that message we can create norms of behaviour among states and encourage respect for the global networked commons.”

Companies rarely talk about hacking unless required to in specific terms, and for countries to broach the topic is almost unheard of. However, since the year President Obama took office, the atmosphere has changed markedly, with various official bodies cranking up the unhappiness knob. British annoyance goes back further while even the Belgians have expressed some pique.

The problem with the US position so far is that they have not produced much evidence to back up their claim that China was the culprit. Most will assume that this doesn’t matter, but it does. It is only by treating such events as diplomatic ones and presenting as much evidence as possible to outsiders that such actions can exact a suitable price of embarrassment.

This is inconsistent because the US was willing to offer up significant amounts of detail (including of its own incompetence) when pursuing alleged Pentagon and NASA hacker, Gary McKinnon. The reason in that case was that the US was seeking to have him extradited from the UK, and judges usually ask for more than a finger pointed in someone’s direction.

Speechify by all means but do so on a firmer foundation of evidence and fact.