“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Chinese Cyber Assault Against UK

Those cheap Chinese products come with a hidden timed released cost that will be paid at a time and place of China's choosing. Free trade should be between equals. China is a massive military industrial complex growing at a rate unmatched in the West. It does so with an asymetric trade strategy. The Chinese army owns many civilian industries and they exploit the cash and technology.

Chinese Communist values are designed to maintain control of China and exploit China's position in the world. One day the West will understand the national security implications of the free ride given to the Chinese in the name of free trade. Too bad later than sooner.

From The Times
December 1, 2007
MI5 alert on China’s cyberspace spy threat

Rhys Blakely, Jonathan Richards, James Rossiter and Richard Beeston

: director-general of MI5 sends letter to British companies warning systems are under attack from China

The Government has openly accused China of carrying out state-sponsored espionage against vital parts of Britain’s economy, including the computer systems of big banks and financial services firms.

In an unprecedented alert, the Director-General of MI5 sent a confidential letter to 300 chief executives and security chiefs at banks, accountants and legal firms this week warning them that they were under attack from “Chinese state organisations”. It is believed to be the first time that the Government has directly accused China of involvement in web-based espionage. Such a blunt and explicit warning from Jonathan Evans could have serious diplomatic consequences and cast a shadow over Gordon Brown’s first official visit to China as Prime Minister early in the new year.

A summary of the MI5 warning, a copy of which has been seen by The Times, was posted on a secure government website. It says that Mr Evans wrote to business leaders “warning them of the electronic espionage attack”.

The summary, on the website of the Centre for the Protection of the National Infrastructure, says: “The contents of the letter highlight the following: the Director-General’s concerns about the possible damage to UK business resulting from electronic attack sponsored by Chinese state organisations, and the fact that the attacks are designed to defeat best-practice IT security systems.”

It adds: “The letter acknowledges the strong economic and commercial reasons to do business with China, but the need to ensure management of the risks involved.”

Access to the site is limited to groups that form part of the country’s critical infrastructure, which include telecoms firms, banks and water and electricity companies. The document gives warning that British companies doing business in China are being targeted by the Chinese Army, which is using the internet to steal confidential commercial information. The Home Office refused to comment last night on what it called leaked private correspondence. A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in London said he was unaware of the allegations and that the embassy had not received any complaints from the British authorities.

Martin Jordan, a principal adviser at the accountants KPMG, who has seen the contents of the letter, said: “If the Chinese know that a British firm is trying to buy a company or other assets such as land in China then they are using every means at their disposal to discover details such as exactly how much money the British company is prepared to spend for that asset.”

Firms known to have been compromised recently by Chinese attacks are one of Europe’s largest engineering companies and a large oil company, The Times has learnt. Another source familiar with the MI5 warning said, however, that known attacks had not been limited to large firms based in the City of London. Law firms and other businesses in the regions that deal even with only small parts of Chinese-linked deals are being probed as potential weak spots, he said.

A security expert who has also seen the letter said that among the techniques used by Chinese groups were “custom Trojans”, software designed to hack into the network of a particular firm and feed back confidential data. The MI5 letter includes a list of known “signatures” that can be used to identify Chinese Trojans and a list of internet addresses known to have been used to launch attacks.

A big study gave warning this week that Government and military computer systems in Britain are coming under sustained attack from China and other countries. It followed a report presented to the US Congress last month describing Chinese espionage in the US as so extensive that it represented “the single greatest risk to the security of American technologies”.

Ian Brown, of Oxford University, one of the report’s authors, said that attacks traced back to China have been found attempting to crack Whitehall passwords. The report identified China as the country most active in internet-enabled spying operations and attacks but says that 120 other countries are using the same techniques.

The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, one of several British bodies charged with protecting the country’s computer systems, has described the threat posed by cyber attacks as enormous.

Defence departments across the globe are already rewriting manuals for a future of digital warfare. The US has recorded 37,000 attempted breaches of government and private systems this year and a new unit at the US Air Force, staffed by 40,000 people, has been set up to prepare for cyber-war.

The Virtual Criminology Report found that attacks had progressed from initial curiosity probes to well-funded and well-organised operations for political, military, economic and technical espionage.


  1. Strategy Page--Russia-----------

    The Rot Continues
    November 27, 2007: Although Russia has announced ambitious military construction and rebuilding programs, when you do the math, you realize that the Russian military is still in decline. For example, Russia's aging ICBM force, which has gotten little money in the last decade, is still wasting away. This despite some new missile construction. Over the next decade, Russia's ICBM forces will decline from nearly 700, to under 200. Similar declines are underway for ground, naval and air forces. Aiding this collapse is the continuing corruption, particularly when it comes to procurement. All the stealing means that the military pays more than it should, for less than it is supposed to get. This is one reason for increasingly hostile diplomacy in response to NATO forces on Russia's borders. After three ruinous invasions in the past two centuries, such paranoia ("of course NATO is planning to invade us") has become acceptable in Russia. The decline in Russian ICBM forces is one reason Russia is so opposed to the anti-missile system the U.S. is building in Eastern Europe (to protect Europe from Iranian ballistic missiles.)

    November 26, 2007: Public protests in the capital, against new government regulations that make it more difficult to form effective opposition parties, were broken up by police. Opposition leaders were arrested.

    November 22, 2007: In southern Russia, near the Caucasus, a bus was apparently hit by a roadside bomb, killing five civilians and wounding a dozen. There's a lot less terrorist violence in the Caucasus, but there are still several hundred Islamic terrorists in the region.

    November 19, 2007: An agreement has been reached with the U.S., to ensure that less weapons grade plutonium is produced in Russia, and that 34 tons of existing plutonium is processed into power plant fuel (that cannot be used for weapons.)

    November 15, 2007: Not all Russian are gone from Georgia, as contingents still remain in the breakaway districts of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgia is not happy with this.

    November 13, 2007: Diplomats from Russia and India hustled to come up with more public signs of mutual cooperation. This is needed to counteract the increasing acrimony from arms deals gone bad. India is getting stiffed by the Russians on several major deals (a converted aircraft carrier, air transports for AWACS, fighter aircraft upgrades and maintenance, etc), that make more headlines in India than in Russia. But other foreign firms are getting more attention in India, and many key arms export markets the Russians now dominate, appear at risk.

    November 11, 2007: Russian arms exporters expect to increase sales to Venezuela, from the current $4 billion, to over $10 billion.

  2. Putin’s Last Realm to Conquer: Russian Culture
    A Kremlin that has gained authority over business and government may be setting its sights on artistic freedom.

  3. " and a new unit at the US Air Force, staffed by 40,000 people, has been set up to prepare for cyber-war."

  4. Doug you are correct, that 40,000 figure must be a typo.

  5. Bobal: The decline in Russian ICBM forces is one reason Russia is so opposed to the anti-missile system the U.S. is building in Eastern Europe (to protect Europe from Iranian ballistic missiles.)

    If Russia is agin it, I'm fer it. Same with the Annapolis Process. There were huge protests in Gaza and Iran. Made my whole day.

  6. I heard a young cyber-security expert who cut his teeth on hacking, say financial institutions are light years ahead of the military.

  7. The military does not pay for thinking, imaginative, outside of the box developments.

    Against the culture of the group.

    Bill Gates, he would not have done well, in the Marines.

  8. 1
    "I heard a young cyber-security expert who cut his teeth on hacking, say financial institutions are light years ahead of the military."

    STRATCOM-Joint Functional Component Command for Network Warfare

    "The military does not pay for thinking, imaginative, outside of the box developments."

    All these so-called 'nontraditional' capabilities have moved into the mainstream of military thinking, planning and strategy -- where they must stay

  9. Read that piece on General P, when it first came out.

    The fellows running the day to day, are old line soldiers, E6's & 7's.
    O3s & 4s.

    Dedicated to many things, buffed floors and haircuts high on the list.

    The best thing the US propaganda machine had going, the messages to home from the front. Now censored for cultural content, to the detriment of the homefront war effort.

  10. In re Eiljah's second, WaPo link:

    'It's ALL about Information Operations.' (Gosh. Wonder where we learned that?)

    Reminds me of the line from The Graduate, "We're all in plastics now, aren't we?"

    'The enemy can't beat us on the battlefield, but we can lose the war of Information Operations.'

    Yes, Wretchard had roughly 8,000 posts on the very subject. Darkly humorous at the time, few seemed to get the joke.