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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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“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.

 

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“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.”

 

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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. 

 

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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.”

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