NSA Hacks China's Huawei "To Know How To Exploit Their Products

Tyler Durden's picture

Having complained for years of China's electronic espiohange, it is perhaps only fitting that, thanks to documents provided by Edward Snowden, the NY Times reports, the NSA pried its way into the servers in Huawei’s sealed headquarters in Shenzhen (Huawei connects a third of the world’s population). The NSA monitored communications of the company’s top executives in an operation called "ShotGiant" looking for links between Huawei and the People's liberation Army. Furthermore, the NSA documents confirm, “we want to make sure that we know how to exploit these products,” it added, to “gain access to networks of interest” around the world. We await the repurcussions...


Via NYTimes,

While President Obama and China’s president, Xi Jinping, have begun talks about limiting the cyber conflict, it appears to be intensifying.


The N.S.A., for example, is tracking more than 20 Chinese hacking groups — more than half of them Chinese Army and Navy units — as they break into the networks of the United States government, companies including Google, and drone and nuclear-weapon part makers, according to a half-dozen current and former American officials.


If anything, they said, the pace has increased since the revelation last year that some of the most aggressive Chinese hacking originated at a People’s Liberation Army facility, Unit 61398, in Shanghai.


The Obama administration distinguishes between the hacking and corporate theft that the Chinese conduct against American companies to buttress their own state-run businesses, and the intelligence operations that the United States conducts against Chinese and other targets.


American officials have repeatedly said that the N.S.A. breaks into foreign networks only for legitimate national security purposes.




But even as the United States made a public case about the dangers of buying from Huawei, classified documents show that the National Security Agency was creating its own back doors — directly into Huawei’s networks.




One of the goals of the operation, code-named “Shotgiant,” was to find any links between Huawei and the People’s Liberation Army, one 2010 document made clear. But the plans went further: to exploit Huawei’s technology so that when the company sold equipment to other countries — including both allies and nations that avoid buying American products — the N.S.A. could roam through their computer and telephone networks to conduct surveillance and, if ordered by the president, offensive cyberoperations.




“Many of our targets communicate over Huawei-produced products,” the N.S.A. document said. “We want to make sure that we know how to exploit these products,” it added, to “gain access to networks of interest” around the world.




“If we can determine the company’s plans and intentions,” an analyst wrote, “we hope that this will lead us back to the plans and intentions of the PRC,” referring to the People’s Republic of China. The N.S.A. saw an additional opportunity: As Huawei invested in new technology and laid undersea cables to connect its $40 billion-a-year networking empire, the agency was interested in tunneling into key Chinese customers, including “high priority targets — Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kenya, Cuba.”




The N.S.A.’s operations against China do not stop at Huawei. Last year, the agency cracked two of China’s biggest cellphone networks, allowing it to track strategically important Chinese military units, according to an April 2013 document leaked by Mr. Snowden. Other major targets, the document said, are the locations where the Chinese leadership works. 


Read more here

Huawei's view...

William Plummer, a senior Huawei executive in the United States, said the company had no idea it was an N.S.A. target, adding that in his personal opinion, “The irony is that exactly what they are doing to us is what they have always charged that the Chinese are doing through us.”

The US view...

China does more in terms of cyberespionage than all other countries put together,” said James A. Lewis, a computer security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“The question is no longer which industries China is hacking into,” he added. “It’s which industries they aren’t hacking into.”

Read more here

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
jagercali's picture

Chinese little bastards....millions of brainwashed idiots in their army....marching like robots to their deaths....if only they knew how good they could have it....big screen TVs....Apple products....vacations....Vegas....what a bunch morons...someone please turn up the music over there....please.....before it's too late....

fonestar's picture

Why we need everything to be open source.  From the hardware on up.

A Lunatic's picture

I heard that is on the agenda, right behind auditing the FED.........

CH1's picture

Oh, yeah... this will turn out real well.

Blowback? What the hell is that?

Winston Churchill's picture

Yes, doesn't matter what software you run if they control the BIOS.

Bunders's picture

I think that's why he said from the hardware on up.

Open Source CPU / System on a chip: OrpSoc <- Not really useful yet.

There was a kickstarter to open an existing IP graphics core but it didn't get off the ground.

Open source bios implementation: Coreboot - Supported by Google, which makes me suspicious, but also works on some older IBM Thinkpads and various old motherboards.

Open source operating system: Linux / *BSD / Whatever. Refuse all blobs, for reasons explained in my previous post, and vendors whos hardware requires them and I think that's about all anyone can do.

Even then,  I don't believe there is a human alive who understands every line of code that executes on his system, maybe someone like this guy, or maybe this guy, and I wouldn't be surprised if IBM had an AI system to treat computer security like a game of chess, built for USGov like they provide supercomputers to run war game simulations and if that's the case then I guess it's pretty much hello brave new world.

If I won the lottery I'd set up fund for the development of formally verified OS / Open Hardware specification such as with SeL4. But even with that you'd still have to trust your encryption standards not to leak that which is transmitted intentionally because without network access any system is as secure as it's physical access. Which, it transpires, is not very secure in the case of Iranian centrifuges and potentially much less secure for any of us than we imagine also.

Dewey Cheatum Howe's picture


They are making and tooling 3D printers these days to do more than gun parts and plastic baubles you know. I've even seen machines designed for sewing.

This is where the revolution will be over time as people grow more and more distrustful of big, centralized and closed. Small, decentralized and open is the future for progress and rebuilding trust.

Infact here is an opensource bitcoin ATM hardware project for example. The revolution is right on schedule regardless of what these centralized paper pushers may say or think.


Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Nice to see the NSA could squeeze in some spying on Chinese in between all their spying on Americans.

TheMeatTrapper's picture

Exactly. At least they did actually do some of what they are supposed to be doing. 

agent default's picture

Reflections on Trusting Trust:


Open source still not good enough.  NSA repeatedly aproached OSS developerts and asked them to install backdoors.




Bunga Bunga's picture

... including governments. Then nobody can steal secrets anymore.

Eireann go Brach's picture

Meanwhile, Mocchelle Obama is heard screaming from the top of the 17th hole, "yo Barack, get yo skinny ass in and get ready for dinner, we have JayZ, your girlfriend Beyonece and that cracker Flavor Flav coming over in 30 minutes on Airforce One".

pupdog1's picture

"Sorry--I've got a date with that Danish royal broad. Don't wait up."

jagercali's picture

Chinese little bastards....millions of brainwashed idiots in their army....marching like robots to their deaths....if only they knew how good they could have it....big screen TVs....Apple products....vacations....Vegas....what a bunch morons...someone please turn up the music over there....please.....before it's too late....

RafterManFMJ's picture

Chinese little bastards....millions of brainwashed idiots in their army....marching like robots to their deaths....if only they knew how good they could have it....big screen TVs....Apple products....vacations....Vegas....what a bunch morons...someone please turn up the music over there....please.....before it's too late....

McMolotov's picture

Uncle Sam's favorite book is "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People."

IridiumRebel's picture

I thought it was The Economist's Cookbook

McMolotov's picture

That's #3 behind Twilight.

prains's picture

I thought #3 was;


Bend Me Over, Tie Me Down: 300 Years of Corptocracy Masquerading as Capitalism

A Lunatic's picture

If it has modern electronic components it has been compromised.......

I Write Code's picture

Especially sloppily made components that can be compromised by black hats and white hats and bored teenagers world-wide.

jubber's picture

This should push China and Russia even more closer together, well done USA fucking morons

McMolotov's picture

You've got it all wrong.

See, you're supposed to shoot the messenger and blame all of this on Snowden instead of on our corrupt government. That way you can wave a Chinese-made American flag and demonstrate your patriotism. Why do you hate America?!?

Sabibaby's picture

So does this mean Huawei was using Cisco products to get their business network hacked in the first place?

post turtle saver's picture

yeah no shit... boo hoo, poor liddle ol' Huawei... corporate pirates, thieves and spies extraordinaire... founded by an ex-PLA military technologist officer... that's why they didn't get to have 3com or any back ties into the Sprint-Nextel merger... they're so bad about it they feed off their own kind (ZTE) like sharks in a frenzy...

hey NSA, it's easy as can be, you hack into Huawei's stuff the same way you hack into cisco's stuff, since they ripped it off directly...


IndyPat's picture

Am I the only one thinking that this is sort of what I'd like the NSA to be doing? Kinda falls under the charter, as intended.
Now, my phone, laptop, gps stateside...that's the part I could do without, snoopy wise.

Gaius Frakkin&#039; Baltar's picture

It depends. If you see totalitarian surveillance as a mortal threat, it necessitates total war on the NSA and all those who support it.

kurt's picture

Are you the guy standing in front of the tank?

I Write Code's picture

If true, should not be revealed.

CH1's picture

should not be revealed.

What are you doing here?

TheMeatTrapper's picture

I have no problem with the NSA surveilling foreign powers. I do have a problem with them violating the Constitution and spying on American citizens. 

What are YOU doing here?

I Write Code's picture

What are you doing here?

Um, stating the obvious?

I'd read right over that this was from Snowden.  And it may be the most significant thing that I've yet seen attributed to him.  And if it's true, this is one that makes him a pure traitor, and also calls seriously into question the "wisdom" of any major publication spreading it around.  Drudge links this to Spiegel, not the NYTimes, at least Spiegel being German has let's call it different interests.

And if it's true - hey, good going, NSA!

Gaius Frakkin&#039; Baltar's picture

Yeah, yeah... Snowden's allegations are baseless or not significant except in cases where the term 'traitor' may stick. We've all witnessed that spin for six months now and it never flew. Anything new?

TrustWho's picture

White Hate guys just created a myth just like Santa Claus....

Atomizer's picture

If the US press core is denied access to Michelle Obama’s China trip, send in the NSA forces to monitor the party on taxpayer’s dime.

IridiumRebel's picture

 NSA Hacks Americans To Know How To Exploit Their Freedom

kurt's picture

You, you can't get fooled again.

JustObserving's picture

What great timing by Michelle Obama.  While she is extolling the imaginary freedoms in the land of the free:

Michelle Obama tells Chinese students internet freedom's a universal right

The very same day we get this Snowden revelation that the NSA has been hacking Chinese tech giant Huawei since 2009 and spying on Chinese leaders:

The American government conducted a major intelligence offensive against China, with targets including the Chinese government and networking company Huawei, according to documents from former NSA worker Edward Snowden that have been viewed by SPIEGEL. Among the American intelligence service's targets were former Chinese President Hu Jintao, the Chinese Trade Ministry, banks, as well as telecommunications companies.

But the NSA made a special effort to target Huawei. With 150,000 employees and €28 billion ($38.6 billion) in annual revenues, the company is the world's second largest network equipment supplier. At the beginning of 2009, the NSA began an extensive operation, referred to internally as "Shotgiant," against the company, which is considered a major competitor to US-based Cisco. The company produces smartphones and tablets, but also mobile phone infrastructure, WLAN routers and fiber optic cable -- the kind of technology that is decisive in the NSA's battle for data supremacy.



And Jimmy Carter says that all his electronic communications are being monitored:

“And when I want to communicate with a foreign leader privately, I type or write the letter myself, put it in the Post Office and mail it, because I believe if I send an email, it will be monitored,” Carter said.



Atomizer's picture

Yep, everyone can see thru the haze of fog these two lying POS say in the public.

Sabibaby's picture

She's right you know, free porn is a universal right!

post turtle saver's picture

Jimmy Carter takes a lot of crap but he is no fool...

Son of Captain Nemo's picture


Is that why Cisco settled out of court with them in 2003 for reverse engineering it's IOS patent(s), only to have the DoD two years later put them on the GSA schedule as a competitive equipment provider to compete against Cisco among other U.S. network equipment manufacturerers?...

I don't normally defend the likes of Cisco for offshoring most of it's technical production and design business, but the courts in this Country raped them over that legal battle with Huwei after 2003...

Maybe this was the deal that got made with China to pick up the refuse from Manhattan in 2001 -no questions asked?


ebworthen's picture

Looking for links between Huawei and the P.L.A.?

Yeah, right.  If they didn't know the P.L.A. runs China they're clueless.

It's just a precept for the N.S.A. to grow their power base, funding, and spying on their own citizens in violation of their oaths to defend The Constitution versus raping it.

Ifigenia's picture

The timing of this news about NSA and Huawei is too political, is almost a trick to cut Ogolfer negotiation power with Mr. Xi. Cui Bono?

Rising Sun's picture

And when that fuck Barry handed control of ICANN over to the UN, it's game over for the internet.


Next move?  Create another internet.