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US Warns Olympic Visitors of Chinese Cyber-Spying 231

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the these-concerns-aren't-chinese-specific dept.
An anonymous reader writes to tell us the US Government has issued a strong warning to travelers headed to the Beijing Olympics (PDF) with respect to electronic data. Part FUD, part awareness, the CBS article reads like 1984, urging travelers to treat all electronic devices (from fax to cellphone and back) as compromised, and proceeds to talk about China's aggressive cyber-espionage programs. "China is one of a number of countries pushing active cyber-espionage programs aimed primarily at cracking U.S. national security computers and stealing corporate trade secrets. Billions have already been lost. In addition, cyber-gangs and criminals, many based in Asia, have stolen bank accounts and credit card numbers from an untold number of Americans."
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US Warns Olympic Visitors of Chinese Cyber-Spying

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  • Government spies on the people for governmental reasons. That's all you need to know citizen!

  • by BitterOldGUy (1330491) on Friday August 08, 2008 @03:33PM (#24530527)
    Where did they get the cybernetic technology from?!? Japan?

    Anyway, wouldn't spotting these cyborg spies be easy? Do they have any cool gadgets; like a hand that turns into a gun or something?

    And I demand to know what the Pentagon is doing to close this gap with cyborg spies!? What's America doing about it? We must have our own cyborg spy program!

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      Where did they get the cybernetic technology from?!? Japan?

      Anyway, wouldn't spotting these cyborg spies be easy? Do they have any cool gadgets; like a hand that turns into a gun or something?

      Well, they got the technology from Japan, but they modified it themselves. So they'll be a lot harder to spot, because the Chinese models aren't all hundred meter tall robots.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Dekker3D (989692)

        So they'll be a lot harder to spot, because the Chinese models aren't all hundred meter tall robots.

        actually, i'd pay to see one of those japanese spies try to hide. my best guess is that it involves a gigantic cardboard box with eyeholes cut out of it.

  • Pretty shameless. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by miffo.swe (547642) <daniel.hedblomNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday August 08, 2008 @03:35PM (#24530569) Homepage Journal

    China is just trying to catch up with the US in business esionage. They have a long way to go yet but thanks to all the greed in the US most of the technology and pretty much all thats worth to know is already outsourced to China.

  • by Fri13 (963421) on Friday August 08, 2008 @03:36PM (#24530583)

    And U.S has not stealed national securities from other countries? HAH... Even Sweden has big and great spy-network now coming but it is small when comparing to U.S spy network....

    • And U.S has not stealed national securities from other countries?

      Before you all jump on this guy for grammar violations, please realize that he is simply an early adopter of Newspeak [wikipedia.org], the origin of which is related to this discussion.

      On another note, everybody seems to overestimate the Chinese: how are they going to see anything important with those squinty little eyes of theirs?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by FJR1300 Rider (888176)
      I can think of a certain Boeing 767 sold to China to serve as the presidential jet, complete with dozens of bugs aboard.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1382116/China-finds-spy-bugs-in-Jiang's-Boeing-jet.html [telegraph.co.uk]

      http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9807E6DD113BF936A25757C0A9659C8B63 [nytimes.com]

      So, this announcement has been brought to you by the words 'pot', 'kettle' and 'black'.
      • Often you don't need anything so active. Some British, ah, unofficial government representatives found they were getting a lot more attention than they'd hoped for on a trip to Moscow a couple of years ago. It turned out that they'd turned off their mobile phones before going into their place of employment and then left them off until they landed in Moscow. When they turned them on, they immediately informed the local tower of the cell ID of their last connection, which told the Russian authorities exact

    • Really? Please give me some examples of our superiority in this regard. I'm always interested in furthering my education on the evils perpetuated by my country.

  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday August 08, 2008 @03:36PM (#24530585) Homepage Journal
    For decades, the Chinese have been probably the greatest foe the US has had as far as spying goes. Not only for military secrets, but, also commercial secrets.
  • by Teun (17872) on Friday August 08, 2008 @03:37PM (#24530587) Homepage
    Guess what, you can distrust anything in China but at least you know your own computer to be safe.

    Until it's confiscated at the US border.

    • by Ilgaz (86384)

      I don't think China fingerprinted USA citizens while getting inside border just because "they are American" right? Imagine the media if they dared to do such thing.

      • by Teun (17872)
        A very insightful comment!

        Ten years ago the the American in China would have had a 'Shadow' following his every step, that has all but disappeared as well.

    • by Danathar (267989)

      What makes you think your computer can't be seized at any time or any reason within China?

  • CBS (Score:5, Funny)

    by HTH NE1 (675604) on Friday August 08, 2008 @03:38PM (#24530605)

    the CBS article reads like 1984, urging travelers to treat all electronic devices (from fax to cellphone and back) as compromised and then proceeding to talk about China's aggressive cyber-espionage programs.

    This from the television network whose logo is a giant eye looking back at you.

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      This from the television network whose logo is a giant eye looking back at you.

      And judging. Always watching, always judging.

  • This is where having a strong end-to-end encryption would've been really nice... Too bad, the "I have nothing to hide" mentality continues to prevail.

  • US Border security (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Friday August 08, 2008 @03:44PM (#24530709) Homepage Journal

    Okay, lets not mention the confiscating of portable computer at US borders as a possible spying risk.

    • by Ilgaz (86384)

      I bet people reading your post will get the idea or suggest the idea so...

      I seriously wonder something. Lets say you are one of those "my everything is online" guys or a VPN using clever corporate worker. So, while travelling to USA, you backup your local data, fire up a privacy tool (or built in disk util in OS X) and 35 pass erase your internal drive. Setup your Windows or OS X, install all updates and turn it off.

      Will this be a major trouble for you in future? A good computer forensics expert can easily

      • by tftp (111690)

        Will this be a major trouble for you in future? A good computer forensics expert can easily figure what you did

        There is no law against carrying a freshly reimaged computer. You only need to be truthful if asked, and that applies to every answer you give at the border. You do not need to explain your reasons, though if needed such an explanation would be obvious and unimpeacheable: "I was concerned about security of my old business documents that I worked with over the years, they might be recoverable fro

  • Would this be measured in the same way as the 'millions' lost byt media companies?

    Some days I wish I wasn't a cynic, but this smacks of manipulation to me.

    Anyone who thinks the US government isn't trying just as hard to wrest secrets from China is kidding themselves. Nor is it new, you'd probably never find a period in history after the emergence of agriculture and the formation of communities/city states when this kind of stuff wasn't going on.

    Personally I think most of this is down to a paranoid need to h

  • export laws (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SpicyLemon (803639)

    I wonder if you can get into trouble for physically carrying encryption software across the US border like you can for "exporting" it by placing it on the internet.

    Queue Admiral Ackbar,

    It's a trap!

  • I think it's a little hypocritical for the US to warn about cyber-spying by anyone else when TSA will confiscate anyone's laptop or PDA on a whim and not return it. Physician heal thyself.

  • I imagine it is all a war game and the security people are rife with honey pots to see what techniques they are using. I would bet there is some subtle disinformation moving also. It is their spy Olympics. Six degrees of deception. Sadly, I think they are out of their league in this game.
    • Why then, doesn't the US just send to the Beijing Olympics people with clear backgrounds, but are agents, carrying honey-pot and honey-net laptops. They could set EMP-type or other types of micro-bursts so that when the laptops are disassembled, they beacon home. But, I suppose that unless US/US allies satellites are overhead at the right time, they won't know if the laptop is compromised...

      No, check that. If the laptop is compromised, it doesn't squawk, YET. I squawks AFTER the carrying agent and they GPS/

  • Pure FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gat0r30y (957941) on Friday August 08, 2008 @04:20PM (#24531269) Homepage Journal

    "All information you send electronically - by fax machine, personal digital assistant (PDA), computer or telephone - can be intercepted."

    This should always be assumed, wherever you may be.
    Visiting an authoritarian government doesn't change that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PCM2 (4486)

      This should always be assumed, wherever you may be. Visiting an authoritarian government doesn't change that.

      Ah, so what they say is true, then? This must be some new definition of the term "FUD" of which I was previously unaware.

      There's lots of the usual Slashdot bitching, kvetching, and sarcastic remarks, but I can't really see what's wrong with pointing out to tourists that their communications might be at risk when traveling in a foreign country. They advised me to get inoculated against hepatitis A and B before I traveled to Southeast Asia, yet people contract both diseases every day right here in the good ol

  • Encrypt all sensitive information on the device.
    (But be warned: In some countries, customs
    officials may not permit you to enter with
    encrypted information.)

    Countries like the United States of America?

  • I didn't bother to read the article. But still, sounds to me like China uses much more sofisticated methodes to spy on people entering the country than the US, which may just confiscate your electronic equipment upon entering if they feel like it... ;-)

  • Pot, meet Kettle (Score:4, Insightful)

    by richardtallent (309050) on Friday August 08, 2008 @04:40PM (#24531579) Homepage

    Glad this entire thread seems to realize the delicious irony here.

    Oh, and since you're reading this thread, you've been added to the TSA's "random political dissident checklist." Have a nice day.

    "Let us be thankful we have an occupation to fill. Work hard, increase production, prevent accidents and be happy. Let us be thankful we have commerce. Buy more. Buy more now. Buy. And be happy."

  • DarkReading wrote that Beijing is bracing for an Olympic Cyber-War [darkreading.com]. Worth the read.

    We created a information security guide for visitors to China for the olympics [securitymusings.com] on behalf of one of our large customers.

    If you take nothing else away from this, just be careful bringing your technology devices to China! The environment there is unsafe for most information technology.
  • We are hypocrites (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HalAtWork (926717) on Friday August 08, 2008 @04:49PM (#24531679)
    "The public security services in China can turn your telephone on and activate its microphone when you think it's off," said Brenner.

    Um, how is that different from here? And why shouldn't we be worried about that happening here? It's not like China has some special properties to make our devices surrender themselves only on their property and only for them. I'm worried because the government knows about this but is not stopping it on our own soil or issuing any such warnings on our own soil. It's very devious.
    • by Cutie Pi (588366)

      Just because someone (or some government) is guilty of hypocrisy doesn't mean their message should be dismissed out of hand.

      If drive across the country in a 5MPG monster truck and pass out books (printed on non-recycled paper) criticizing our governments inaction on climate change, I might be a hypocrite, but my message might still be sound and worth considering. (However, being a hypocrite does make me lose all sense of being authority on the matter).

  • Remind me again... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pak9rabid (1011935) on Friday August 08, 2008 @04:52PM (#24531707)
    ...why China was selected to host the Olympics? Oh yea, because the IOC is just another business that sells out to the highest bidder...no wonder I have zero interest in the Olympics.
  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Friday August 08, 2008 @05:28PM (#24532045)

    Shortly after the recent earthquake in China my wife told me about an interesting news report. I'd post a link, but the report is in Chinese and I don't have a link to the story anyway.

    Apparently there was this girl who was pissed that she couldn't get a stable internet connection so that she could play some online game. And more than that, she was resentful about the attention the earthquake victims were getting. So she posted a Youtube video about it.

    So her ranting drew the government's attention and they actually arrested her for illegal speech. I don't know how long she was in jail, but I think she was eventually released.

    Here's the interesting thing: many Americans would shit themselves if someone were arrested for exercising their freedom of speech, regardless of what's been said, or at least, as I've been discovering, as long as it conforms to their worldview.

    On the other hand, Chinese think very differently. Even my wife, and her friends, who are Taiwanese, not even Chinese, agree with the actions taken by the government. And these are people living in the US. They agree with the right to free speech and to be able to be critical of the government. But they believe that there's a line people shouldn't cross. My wife finds it troubling that a person in the US can say anything and everything even if it's socially disruptive.

    I think it comes down to a sense of respect for society and the system and this desire to maintain social order. I'm sure some find this to be a very troubling concept. And it's pervasive to one extent or another throughout east Asia. This is how China can be so open about their activities, because many people support it.

    I don't agree with this at all, particularly because of the massive potential for abuse. And attitudes certainly are changing out there. But compared to Americans, Asians are still more respectful and a lot more nationalistic. Case in point is how many Americans seem eager to crap on their own country and despite the freedoms they enjoy seem to enjoy imagining they live in some sort of police state. There's a lot wrong with the US, but come on, give me a break.

    Too many people seem to be more upset about how the police handles a suspect than they are about high crime rates. It was great when I was living in Taiwan and could be out at 2am without having to be concerned for my well-being. I can't say the same in many parts of the US. I feel like too many people in this country have their priorities backwards.

    • by guy5000 (1211440)
      they agree b/c they are forced to/the propaganda machine worked on them. Only values in the sense of ones imposed by the govt. Similar to the "drugs are bad message" in the united states.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rtechie (244489) *

      Too many people seem to be more upset about how the police handles a suspect than they are about high crime rates. It was great when I was living in Taiwan and could be out at 2am without having to be concerned for my well-being. I can't say the same in many parts of the US.

      You've been tricked by the sensationalist Western media. Crime rates are LOWER here than they were in Taiwan (probably, everybody lies about it). Note your terminology: you're "concerned". Nothing has actually happened, but you're concerned anyway because the media has told you to be.

      And brutal policing doesn't decrease crime, it INCREASES it. Brutalized offenders have much higher recidivism rates.

  • Funny, I always thought that was what Echolon was for. Wasn't that even confirmed by the EU parlament?

  • But of course they do! It's only natural. And they do it in grand style too.

    See e.g. here: http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1130/p01s01-usfp.html [csmonitor.com]

    So ... yes ... China would be interested in any intelligence it can get its hands on. From innocuous material from open sources to more valuable material, likewise from open sources. But also the more clandestine stuff. From pure industrial espionage to scientific and military espionage. But then so would numerous other countries (see e.g. http://www.loyola.edu/d [loyola.edu]

  • Oh, and this differs from the DHS claiming the right to confiscate all data in my personal possession when crossing the border how, exactly?

    Not like how taped conversations between Airbus and its customers were "accidentally released" to Boeing to better their negotiations?

    Oh yeah - one is a government, I forgot.

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