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    China could launch cyber attack on Great Britain

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    China could launch cyber attack on Great Britain

    Post by Guest on Tue Mar 31, 2009 9:09 am

    China ‘could use BT network to launch cyber attack and cripple Britain’


    By Rebecca Camber, Daily Mail, 30th March 2009

    “China could shut down Britain with a cyber attack using BT’s new £10billion network, ministers have been warned.
    Parts of the system installed by a telecoms firm linked to China’s army could be used to halt supplies of power, water and food, the intelligence services say.
    The components can also be manipulated to disrupt transport and financial systems, and to spy on anyone who uses the network, including MI5, MI6, government departments and the military.
    A confidential document sent to Whitehall by the intelligence services warns that while BT has taken steps to reduce the risk of attacks by hackers or organised crime, ‘the mitigating measures are not effective against deliberate attack by China’.
    News of the danger came as it emerged that a cyber spy network based in China had hacked into computers in 103 countries, including the private office of the Dalai Lama, to steal classified documents from government and private organisations.
    Alex Allan, chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, is understood to have briefed the ministerial committee on national security about the threat in January.
    The meeting, led by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, heard that ministers had ‘not paid sufficient attention to the threat in the past’, despite repeated warnings from the intelligence services and the security arm of the Government’s listening centre GCHQ.
    BT signed a multi-million pound deal in April 2005 to get key parts of its new communications network from telecoms firm Huawei, which was allegedly founded with significant Chinese state funding.
    The firm’s head is Ren Zhengfei, a former director of the telecoms research arm of China’s three-million-strong army.
    Huawei provides parts in BT’s telephone exchange that receive signals, and identify whether they are telephone or data-related and then send them on to customers.
    The committee heard that BT’s Huawei components might already contain malicious elements gathering intelligence, which could be activated in a cyber attack that would have a ’significant impact on critical services’ that depend on computers.
    This could disrupt power and water supplies, food distribution, transport, the financial system, phones and TVs, the meeting was told.
    The intelligence services report says that while the risk of China exploiting this capability is ‘low’, because of current friendly relations, ‘the impact would be very high’
    John Tindle, telecommunications engineering professor at Sunderland University, said software or hardware could sit hidden in a network.
    ‘If an unauthorised person were able to gain control of the equipment, its mode of operation could be changed,’ he added. ‘The ability to move traffic across the network could be switched off.
    However, ministers are concerned that replacing the Chinese components with British parts would go against their policy on competition and would be too expensive.
    The number of cyberwarfare attacks from China has grown significantly in the past few years.
    A report by Cambridge University said a spying operation based in the Communist state had broken into computers in 103 countries.
    It found more than 1,295 compromised computers from the ministries of foreign affairs of Iran, Bangladesh, Latvia, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei, Barbados and Bhutan.
    Reseachers also discovered hacked systems in the embassies of India, South Korea, Indonesia, Romania, Cyprus, Malta, Thailand, Taiwan, Portugal, Germany and Pakistan.
    The Chinese reportedly targeted Whitehall in 2007. In the same year, MI5 chief Jonathan Evans warned 300 British businesses that the Chinese were hacking into their systems and stealing information.
    Last week a U.S. intelligence report identified Huawei as a key part of the cyberthreat from China, reporting that it retained ‘close ties’ with the People’s Liberation Army. A merger of Huawei with U.S. firm 3Com, which provides computer security for the Pentagon, was blocked last year on the grounds of national security.
    Yesterday a Huawei spokesman dismissed links to the Chinese military. BT refused to comment.

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