The title is inspired by the article Are Chinese Telecoms Acting as the Ears for Central Asian Authoritarians? published in Eurasianet.org, examining the probable role of Chinese telecoms firms, notably Huawei and ZTE, in espionage and surveillance. The article notes that both ZTE and Huawei have signed contracts worth tens of millions of US dollars with governments in Central Asia, not known for their democratic credentials. The article also flags an on-going US congressional committee probe into the two companies in particular, and how the telecoms products (like USB dongles) and possibly even services (including underlying network technologies and infrastructure) aid espionage. As the article avers,
Sen. John Kerry is fed up with Chinas penchant for looting technology from U.S. businesses — up to $400 billion worth of data each year. When will it stop?POSTED ON FEBRUARY 16, 2012, AT 3:52 PMChinese gamers at an internet cafe: Sen. John Kerry D-Mass. says Chinese hackers are illegally stealing business secrets from American firms. Photo: Imaginechina/Corbis SEE ALL 54 PHOTOSChinese Vice President Xi Jinping, slated to be the next leader of the worlds most populous nation, is getting an earful from U.S. officials over Chinas shady business practices. During Xis first official tour of the U.S. this week, Sen. John Kerry D-Mass. accused a Chinese company of bankrupting a U.S. competitor by ransacking its software. And thats just the tip of the iceberg, alleges Kerry, implicating China in “cyber-attacks, access-to-market issues, espionage [and] theft.” And, indeed, a flurry of recent reports indicate that Chinese hackers, backed by the government, are stealing business secrets from the U.S. Here, a guide:
Cyber-Spies Intercepted Sensitive Files, Emails From Nortel: Report – Security – News & Reviews – eWeek.com
Attackers breached Nortel and had free rein to spy on its internal network and communications from 2000 to 2009, according to an internal report. As usual, China is the prime suspect.
Chinese hackers allegedly breached telecommunications company Nortel in 2000 and these cyber-spies gained access to reams of sensitive technical documents, as well as internal communications and email, for nearly 10 years, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
The attackers, suspected of being based in China, breached the network using stolen credentials and installed spying software deep within the company’s networking environment to gain access to all documents and communications, the Journal reported Feb. 14. The breach appears to date as far back as 2000, Brian Shields, the former senior advisor for systems security at Nortel who led the internal investigation, told the paper.
McConnell, Chertoff and Lynn: Chinas Cyber Thievery Is National Policy—And Must Be Challenged – WSJ.com
By MIKE MCCONNELL, MICHAEL CHERTOFF AND WILLIAM LYNNOnly three months ago, we would have violated U.S. secrecy laws by sharing what we write here—even though, as a former director of national intelligence, secretary of homeland security, and deputy secretary of defense, we have long known it to be true. The Chinese government has a national policy of economic espionage in cyberspace. In fact, the Chinese are the worlds most active and persistent practitioners of cyber espionage today.Evidence of Chinas economically devastating theft of proprietary technologies and other intellectual property from U.S. companies is growing. Only in October 2011 were details declassified in a report to Congress by the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive. Each of us has been speaking publicly for years about the ability of cyber terrorists to cripple our critical infrastructure, including financial networks and the power grid. Now this report finally reveals what we couldnt say before: The threat of economic cyber espionage looms even more ominously.
Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng hosts the ministry’s second regular press conference in Beijing, May 25, 2011. [Photo/China Daily, mod.gov.cn]
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) confirmed in May 2011 that it has established an “Online Blue Army” to improve China’s defense capability and ensure the security of the country’s military network. The announcement drew close attention from military watchers and experts worldwide.
Zhang Shaozhong, a military expert and a professor from PLA National Defense University, told the People’s Daily that China is increasingly dependent on the Internet, but makes no domestic root servers, and various other types of software and Internet hardware are U.S. made. In this sense, China can be described as merely a computer user with a fairly fragile Internet security system. These are circumstances that cry out for the build up of Internet security forces.
Throughout 2010, 480,000 Trojans viruses and 13,782 Zombie viruses were detected, with 221,000 Trojan and 6,531 Zombie remote control clients found to originate in foreign countries.
Hacker Attacks on U.S. Reveal China’s Weakness, Lack of Innovation | Espionage & Cyberwar | National Security | SecurityNewsDaily
It must have been a merry Christmas and a happy New Year for professional cyberwarriors, as extensive new Pentagon plans focusing on Internet security were revealed in mid-December, just after a week’s worth of stories appeared in the business press about massive information theft by Chinese hackers.
On the surface, the combination of media reports and defense posturing seem to indicate a new Chinese digital offensive against American interests. Dramatic as that may sound, these events are merely part of the status quo in the brittle relationship between the Chinese economy and innovative American companies, and not the first shots of a digital Pearl Harbor.
SECURITY RESEARCH OUTFIT Alienvault has revealed that Chinese cyber criminals are using malware to hack smart cards used by the US Department of Defence (DoD).
The latest strain of the backdoor access Trojan called Sykipot is being used to gain remote access to protected resources. A spear phishing technique is used to persuade the target to open a pdf file that lets the malware loose. It then uses a basic keylogger to steal credentials of cards used in the reader.
When we think of China in relation to cyber warfare, we imagine an army of hackers hired by the government in a computer room ready to successfully attack any potential target. China is perceived as a cyber power and ready to march against any insurmountable obstacle using any means. In this connection we read everything and its opposite, and we are ready to blame all sorts of cyber threats to the Country of the Rising Sun. The truth, however, is quite different, at least in my opinion, and understands that the Chinese people before others have understood the importance of a strategic hegemony in cyber space. However, many doubts are beginning to gather on the real technological capabilities of China.
It certainly has a high potential for cyber offensive but its quality is really arguable. China has the most extensive cyber-warfare capabilities. It began to implement an Information Warfare strategy in 1995 conducting a huge quantity of exercises in which computer viruses have been used to interrupt military and private communications. In 2000, China established a strategic Information Warfare unit, Net Force, which is responsible for “wage combat through computer networks to manipulate enemy information systems spanning spare parts deliveries to fire control and guid ance systems.” Today The PLA GSD Third Department and Fourth Departments are considered to be the two largest players in China‘s burgeoning cyber-infrastructure. In November 2011, Desmond Ball, a professor in the Strategic and Defense Studies Centre at Australia’s National University argues that the Chinese offensive capabilities today are pretty limited and he has also declared that the internal security has a bunch of vulnerabilities.
Jan. 4 Bloomberg — The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines must combine resources to thwart any efforts by countries such as China and Iran to block America’s access to the South China Sea, the Persian Gulf and other strategic regions, according to a draft of a Pentagon review.The military services must work more cooperatively to pool their intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and cyber-security tools, as well as operational concepts, the review is expected to say, according to an administration official familiar with the review who asked not to be identified.The U.S. should be able to deter any emerging anti-access capabilities such as the diesel attack submarines being developed by China and the anti-ship ballistic missiles deployed by China and Iran, and if necessary, defeat them, said the administration official.Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is due to unveil the review tomorrow, setting policy priorities in addressing about $490 billion in budget cuts over the next decade.
Hackers may be targeting non-government organizations with a series of backdoor attacks, a computer security firm warned this week.
Trend Micro said it has found evidence that Amnesty International (AI), whose UK website was attacked recently, is “not the only intended target for the attack.”
“Based on our investigation, it seems that the initially reported affected organization is just one of the targets in this attack and that the attack itself is fashioned specifically for the targets,” it said in a blog post.
It cited earlier reports the attack on AI’s website involved an iframe that redirected users to another compromised site in Brazil.
The site executed a malicious Java applet detected as JAVA_DLOAD.ZZC, which exploits vulnerability in Java.
According to Trene Micro, the attack drops BKDR_PPOINTER.SM, which connects to a certain URL to send and receive commands from the attacker.
“It is also capable of gathering certain information about the affected system,” Trend Micro said.
A separate blog post by security researcher Brian Krebs late December said AI’s homepage in the United Kingdom had served malware that exploits a recently-patched vulnerability in Java.
“Security experts say the attack appears to be part of a nefarious scheme to target human rights workers,” he said.