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Cyber spying not a Chinese monopol网络间谍并非中国独占市场

Cyber spying not a Chinese monopoly


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Week 138 Mar 04 - Mar 10,  2013                                              Soong Kuan



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The Toronto Star Wednesday Feb 27, 2013 Opinion

Cyber spying not a Chinese monopoly

网络间谍并非中国独占市场   by  Andrew Mitrovica Freelance Opinion writer

Western intelligence agencies have a long record poaching commercial secrets




A new report pointed     an accusatory finger at China's People’s Liberation Army for stealing     corporate secrets.






If China’s dictatorship has compiled a list of troublesome foreign journalists, then I’m likely on it.

For years, in these pages and as the security and intelligence reporter for a national newspaper, I have routinely written about the pervasive scope of Chinese espionage, particularly inside Canada.

On occasion, some Canadian officials and media dismissed my reportage as fantastical. Well, the naysayers have vanished. Today, in Ottawa and for much of the media, China constitutes the gravest counter-intelligence threat not only to this country, but also to western interests. Times have certainly changed.


A (1) spate of reports — including one by the U.S.-based cyber security firm Mandiant, which made global headlines last week — has detailed Beijing’s prosecution of what effectively amounts to a cyber war against the West’s diplomatic, military, intelligence, media, industrial and commercial infrastructure.

Mandiant’s work attracted worldwide attention largely because it pointed an (2) accusatory finger directly at Beijing, and more precisely, at the People’s Liberation Army, for having (3) surreptitiously housed and directed a Chinese hacking group it identified as APT1. This shadowy group has allegedly been responsible for stealing corporate secrets, including the technology blueprints and manufacturing processes from a (4) litany of American corporations in scores of industries.

But lost in all the predictable (although, perhaps in this case, warranted) (5) hyperbole about China’s state-sanctioned cyber espionage or thieving — take your pick — is the fact that western intelligence services have waged a similar kind of war in the electronic (6) ether for decades.

This may seem an obvious point. Yet amid the furor over China’s actions, there has been little, if any, reporting and fleeting acknowledgement that western espionage services haven’t exactly been saints in cyberspace.

Take, for example, the National Security Agency (NSA), the U.S.’s cryptologic intelligence service that intercepts, stores and analyzes a bottomless well of communications. This includes cellular, Internet, email traffic and other “personal data trails” like Google searches and online purchases, transmitted via satellites or through underground or undersea cables.

The NSA, an arm of the U.S. Department of Defense, has since 1952 trained its unrivalled technological capabilities on America’s military, diplomatic and intelligence adversaries.

And way back in 1990 a top NSA official made it publicly known that the agency had plans to broaden its spying to steal foreign commercial and industrial secrets. The same kind of secrets the Chinese have been aggressively pursuing through hackers and more traditional electronic eavesdropping and spies.

According to renowned American journalist and NSA authority James Bamford, then NSA head Vice-Admiral William O. Studeman told a July 15, 1990, Washington meeting of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that the agency planned to turn “its giant ear toward a new target: the economic and corporate affairs of our allies."

In his dispatch for the Los Angeles Times about Studeman’s revealing remarks, Bamford noted that the NSA had begun “aiming its antennae in new directions, such as India, Pakistan and the Philippines” to pilfer “competitive economic intelligence."

Here’s the key, instructive quote from Bamford’s piece. “Unlike general economic intelligence, such as how much money is flowing in and out of Switzerland — something the NSA has always targeted — competitive intelligence includes targeting specific companies to secretly learn everything from new product lines to sealed bids to new technologies."

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Bamford added that the Japanese and British security services had a long history of poaching highly guarded corporate secrets. He pointed out, as well, that in 1989 French spies recruited agents inside American corporate giants like IBM and Texas Instruments to steal trade secrets it then passed on to its “struggling” publicly owned computer company.

The chief argument, Bamford explained long ago, for the NSA to set its sights on strategically important companies was that “other countries are doing it to (America.) But there is no real comparison. When it comes to eavesdropping, NSA has the world wired."

That was true in 1990 and it remains just as true today.

As for China’s recruiting of an invisible army of patriotic hackers to help steal and protect state secrets, the NSA appears to be in that business, too. Last July, at a Las Vegas conference attended by thousands of hackers, NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander appealed to the gathering’s patriotism, (7) imploring the hackers to join the agency’s ranks so they could help protect the U.S. from their foreign brethren.

The largely skeptical computer wizards weren’t convinced that once inside the NSA’s mushrooming empire — the agency is building a mammoth super-secret facility in Utah — that would be all they would be asked to do (legally or otherwise) for their country. Moreover, a special recruitment page for the Las Vegas-bound hackers contemplating an NSA career reportedly included the following assurance; “If you have, shall we will say, a few (8) indiscretions in your past, don’t be alarmed."

Now, hackers may or may not have been involved when the NSA, apparently working with Israel, used cyberspace to burrow its way into foreign industrial infrastructures — just like the Chinese. In one case, the NSA reportedly used malicious software known as Stuxnet to try to cripple Iran’s uranium enrichment program. And last year, high-ranking Iranian officials had their computers penetrated by a data-mining virus known as Flame. The U.S. is suspected of planting the computer virus.

So when you next read, hear or watch a news report about how those Chinese spies are up to no good in cyberspace, remember the West’s spies don’t wear halos either.

Andrew Mitrovica is the author of Covert Entry: Spies, Lies and Crimes Inside Canada's Secret Service


 (1) spate


large quantity: a large quantity of something

  a spate of rumours


outburst: a sudden strong outburst

  a spate of jealousy


flood: a flood, or the state of overflowing

  After the heavy rain the river was in spate.



The river is in spate. 河水猛涨。 Refugees crossed the border in full spate. 难民大量地越过了边境。

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------(2) accusatory



Same as accusatorial )



claiming wrongdoing: containing or making an accusation (formal)


relying on proof provided by prosecutor: describes a legal   system in which the prosecution is required to provide proof of guilt beyond   reasonable doubt, with the evidence being assessed by an impartial judge and   jury.




 (3) surreptitiously


trying to avoid being noticed: done in a concealed or underhand way to escape notice, especially disapproval


秘密的;偷偷的。 a surreptitious glance 偷看。


(4) litany



long repetitious list: a long and repetitious list of things such as   complaints or problems

  recited a litany of grievances against the   administration


prayers during worship: in a Christian service, a series of sung or spoken   liturgical prayers or requests for the blessing of God, including invocations   from a priest or minister and responses from a congregation



the L- (英国教会《公祷文》中的)启应析文。


(5) hyperbole


exaggeration: deliberate and obvious exaggeration used for effect,

e.g. 'I could eat a million of these'




(6) ether



chemistry liquid solvent: a volatile colourless   liquid with a pleasant smell. Use: solvent, formerly as an anaesthetic.   Formula: C2H5OC2H5


or (plural ethers) chemistry organic compound with   linked hydrocarbon groups: any organic compound containing two hydrocarbon groups linked by an   oxygen atom


aethersky: the sky, or the upper reaches of the atmosphere   (literary)


aetherair: Earth's atmosphere (literary)


aetherphysics hypothetical electromagnetic medium: a medium formerly   believed to fill the atmosphere and outer space and to carry electromagnetic   waves

  send a message across the ether





(7) imploring


begging: earnestly asking for something

  an imploring look




(8) indiscretions



tactless lack of judgment: lack of tact or good   judgment


something unwise: something said or done that is tactless or unwise

  apologizing for past indiscretions



have the indiscretion to do sth. 居然轻率地做某事。 commit a grave indiscretion 生活极不检点〔尤指男女关系〕。


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