During his civil lawsuit against the Peopleís Republic of China, Brian Milburn says he never once saw one of the countryís lawyers. He read no court documents from Chinaís attorneys because they filed none. The voluminous case record at the U.S. District courthouse in Santa Ana contains a single communication from China: a curt letter to the U.S. State Department, urging that the suit be dismissed.
That doesnít mean Milburnís adversary had no contact with him.
For three years, a group of hackers from China waged a relentless campaign of cyber harassment against Solid Oak Software Inc., Milburnís family-owned, eight-person firm in Santa Barbara, California. The attack began less than two weeks after Milburn publicly accused China of appropriating his companyís parental filtering software, CYBERsitter, for a national Internet censoring project. And it ended shortly after he settled a $2.2 billion lawsuit against the Chinese government and a string of computer companies last April.
In between, the hackers assailed Solid Oakís computer systems, shutting down web and e-mail servers, spying on an employee with her webcam, and gaining access to sensitive files in a battle that caused company revenues to tumble and brought it within a hairís breadth of collapse.