Thursday, September 13, 2012

Is the US unwittingly letting Chinese cyberspies in the back door?

CBS News) The House Intelligence Committee will hold a hearing Thursday that focuses on two Chinese telecommunications companies that are trying to gain market share in the United States.
Critics say those companies may be under pressure to spy on American businesses and intelligence agencies.
China has a long record of inserting spies, from graduate students to respected scientists, into U.S. companies to siphon out valuable trade secrets.
What U.S. officials are worried about now is that bringing large Chinese telecommunications companies to the U.S. could give the Chinese government a way to spy on a massive scale, without ever having to use a single human being.
During the Olympics, a company that most Americans have never heard of was buying a lot of TV time. Huawei, the world's second largest telecommunications equipment maker, was putting its best foot forward to an American audience.
Huawei already has a presence in the U.S. market. Their phones can be found at any Cricket Outlet, and the company did $1.3 billion in business in the U.S. last year alone.
But Huawei wants a bigger stake in the U.S. market. The company wants to provide telecommunications systems and infrastructure to large U.S. companies, and that, U.S. intelligence officials are worried, could provide China with a giant Trojan horse.
Stewart Baker, former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, says the Chinese government could pressure a Chinese company like Huawei to use its technology to spy on the U.S.
Baker said, "If the Chinese government said, 'Your country needs you. You need to do this for your country,' it's hard to imagine that a patriotic company would refuse to do that."
Here is what some intelligence officials are afraid of: China has been accused of being behind a massive effort to infiltrate U.S. companies with spies to steal corporate trade secrets that may be worth millions - even billions of dollars. What if a Chinese-run telecommunications firm provided the very infrastructure - the phones, emails, and routers - that those trade secret pass through every day?
Shawn Henry, a former assistant director of the FBI for cyber security, says there are ways to easily add what they call a back door to any system. Henry said, "Telecommunications equipment is put in place, and its purpose is to route data through a network. An adversary who had control over programming that hardware or that software could potentially re-route data, so that it was able to be siphoned off or viewed by others."
Concerns about Huawei are underscored by the fact that its founder is a former high-ranking Chinese military officer.
"They're a communist government. They have more control over their companies and their citizens," Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., said.
Ruppersberger is the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, which launched a bipartisan investigation into Huawei and another company, ZTE Communications, last year.
Ruppersberger told CBS News, "If you're gonna put your technology in our country and that allows you the ability to steal information or cyber attack our companies and our citizens, then we want to protect our citizens. And that's our role, why we're doing this investigation."
Huawei says it welcomed the investigation as a chance to answer any questions. The company declined CBS News' request for an interview, but said in a statement that their integrity was proven and "Huawei has not and will not jeopardize our global commercial success nor the integrity of our customers' networks for any third party, government or otherwise."
Sources tell CBS News the Intelligence Committee's final report on Huawei is expected to be released in early October.
CBS News reached out to four telecommunications companies in the U.S. that use Huawei technology. They declined to speak on camera, but one provider told CBS News their company was replacing their Huawei equipment due to the congressional investigation.

Protests over anti-Muslim film continue

Cairo (CNN) -- Protests over an offensive anti-Muslim film bled into a third day Thursday near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
Demonstrators threw rocks and Molotov cocktails as police tried to disperse them by firing tear gas canisters from police vehicles as they drove through Tahrir Square, near the embassy.
At least 13 protesters and six police officers were injured, Egyptian government officials said Thursday.
The clashes came amid heightened tensions at U.S. diplomatic missions in the region following Tuesday's attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other consular officials. of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 
The protests follow the online release of a film produced in the United States that denigrates Prophet Mohammed.
About 500 people, many chanting anti-American slogans, demonstrated Wednesday in Cairo against the film. The protest continued into Thursday.
The protest turned violent as demonstrators threw rocks and pushed through barbed wire fencing outside the embassy, according to Alla Mahmoud, a spokesman for the Egyptian Interior Ministry. Two police trucks and a car were set afire.
"Forces were able to push them down toward Tahrir Square farther from embassy street," Mahmoud said, adding that some arrests had been made.
By early Thursday, protesters had been pushed 100 yards from the embassy, said journalist Ian Lee in Cairo.
Earlier, Egypt's president spoke in the "strongest terms" about Tuesday's incident at the Cairo embassy -- but not against the attack.
Tuesday, police and Egyptian army personnel formed defensive lines around the U.S. Embassy to prevent demonstrators from advancing, but not before the protesters placed a black flag atop a ladder in the American compound. Police arrested four protesters.
WhiIe Egypt's prime minister called Tuesday's incident "regrettable" and unjustified, its president condemned the anti-Muslim film that incited the protesters.
President Mohamed Morsy made a reference to Egypt's duty to protect diplomatic missions and its opposition to unlawful protesters, but did not mention those who stormed the embassy.
"The presidency condemns in the strongest terms the attempt of a group to insult the place of the Messenger, the Prophet Mohammed ... and condemns the people who have produced this radical work," the president said in a statement posted on his Facebook page. "The Egyptian people, both Muslims and Christians, refuse such insults on sanctities."
The statement noted that "the Egyptian government is responsible to protect private and public properties and diplomatic missions in addition to embassy headquarters of various countries" and that "it respects and protects the right of expression and the right to protest peacefully under the law and will firmly oppose any irresponsible attempt to veer off the law."
The incident comes during a delicate period in the relationship between the United States and Egypt under Morsy, the country's first leader since the overthrow last year of longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak -- a key Western ally.
U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with Morsy on Wednesday "to review the strategic partnership between the United States and Egypt, and our ongoing efforts to strengthen bilateral economic and security cooperation," the White House said in a statement early Thursday.
During the call, the statement said, Obama told Morsy that "he rejects efforts to denigrate Islam, but underscored that there is never any justification for violence against innocents and acts that endanger American personnel and facilities."
Morsy "expressed his condolences for the tragic loss of American life in Libya and emphasized that Egypt would honor its obligation to ensure the safety of American personnel," according to the White House statement.
The Cairo incident was not nearly as bad as the violence in neighboring Libya, where an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi killed four Americans, including Stevens. A pro-al Qaeda group was to blame for that attack, according to sources tracking militant groups in the region.
In his statement, Morsy called on Egyptian diplomats in Washington "to take legal action against those people who seek to ruin relationships and discussions between people and countries.


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