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  1. #1
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    Default The Chinese Espionage Threat

    TimesOnline, 20 Jul 08: Gordon Brown aide a victim of honeytrap operation by Chinese agents
    .....Downing Street yesterday confirmed that a member of the prime minister’s office had lost a BlackBerry during an evening event on the January visit to China. However, it played down the affair, stating that an investigation had established that there was “no compromise to security”.

    Last week it emerged that US intelligence and security officials were debating whether to warn business people and other travellers heading to the Beijing Olympics about the dangers posed by Chinese computer hackers.

    Joel Brenner, the US government’s top counter-intelligence official, warned: “So many people are going to the Olympics and are going to get electronically undressed.”
    JF's China Brief, 17 Jul 08: The Evolution of Espionage: Beijing’s Red Spider Web
    .....What we know thus far about China’s espionage activities against U.S. weapons laboratories and other technology development programs is cause enough for concern. The U.S. intelligence community’s official damage assessment of Chinese espionage targeting America’s nuclear technology secrets tells us this much:

    What we know:

    • China obtained by espionage classified U.S. nuclear weapons information that probably accelerated its program to develop future nuclear weapons. This collection program allowed China to focus successfully on critical paths and avoid less promising approaches to nuclear weapon designs.
    • China obtained at least basic design information on several modern U.S. nuclear reentry vehicles, including the Trident II (W88).
    • China also obtained information on a variety of U.S. weapon design concepts and weaponization features, including those of the neutron bomb.

    What we don’t know:

    • We cannot determine the full extent of weapon information obtained. For example, we do not know whether any weapon design documentation or blueprints were acquired.
    • We believe it is more likely that the Chinese used U.S. design information to inform their own program than to replicate U.S. weapon designs.

    Yet there is much more to China’s quest for U.S. technology. China has obtained a major advantage that the former KGB did not enjoy during the Cold War: unprecedented access to American academic institutions and industry.....

  2. #2
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    In a nation that is up in arms about the NSA tapping into every single conversation and data packet people are pretty sanguine about going to China. China, a totalitarian communist regime with a state owned/controlled telephone and data network with some of the most sophisticated snooping technologies on the planet. Go ahead and complain about limited snooping in the US by the NSA with over sight, and then go to China for vacation. I'll never understand.
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    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    Once upon a time, someone translated a Mossad mnemonic for the espionage recruiting basic approaches; it was three words (alliterative in Hebrew) and I'd swear one of them was sex...

    I think the bigger story than "OMG! China does espionage!" is "Jeesh, look at the caliber of aide our senior ('our' in the NATO collective, I'm U.S. but it still applies to U.S. leadership) civilian leaders pick for themselves." The guy can't keep his britches zipped in the middle of a counter-intell threat that is off the scale. What a winner.

    Is it a bad thing if I laugh my butt off when it turns out the girl was a minor and someone has some 'happy snaps'?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Van
    Is it a bad thing if I laugh my butt off when it turns out the girl was a minor and someone has some 'happy snaps'?
    If they were going to coerce him through blackmail into a productive source, they would not have compromised him at the outset by taking his Blackberry. Poor tradecraft, and the Chinese aren't such amateurs that they'd set him up for one and ruin the effort by doing the other.

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    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    they'd set him up for one and ruin the effort by doing the other.
    I was being facetious, but...

    A multipexed operation to maximize options and create deniability and media confusion? Use a girl just under the legal age, so if the pigeon complains about the stolen gadget, they can charge the victim of an intell op with statutory rape. If he doesn't report the theft, they can go with extortion. Deniability, as they can point out that she's a minor, and they'd never use a minor like that (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). If the target tries to make a stink in the media, they make a bigger one?

    But I'm just thinking out loud, and I was joking in the first place.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Van View Post
    I was being facetious, but...

    A multipexed operation to maximize options and create deniability and media confusion? Use a girl just under the legal age, so if the pigeon complains about the stolen gadget, they can charge the victim of an intell op with statutory rape. If he doesn't report the theft, they can go with extortion. Deniability, as they can point out that she's a minor, and they'd never use a minor like that (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). If the target tries to make a stink in the media, they make a bigger one?

    But I'm just thinking out loud, and I was joking in the first place.
    No, joking is fine - but I do think it is important to understand the nature of the threat, and I appreciate your throwing out the examples.

    Recruiting a source - whether willingly or through coercion - is best kept as simple as possible. Complexity = risk and putting too many layers on it - especially with the risk of image blowback through the use of a minor in a sexual situation - is not something that would be used by the Chinese against a target at that level (especially just prior to the Olympics).

    Deniability in this case is also simple - being rolled by a hooker is something that occurs often enough everywhere in the world for the Chinese simply to pass it off as common theft as opposed to a targeted lift.

    Coercion to keep someone quiet about a theft is not that common in espionage (much more common in the criminal world). Even without the individual's confession, the outright theft of an item desired by a hostile intelligence agency would usually be noticed. Coercion is more commonly used to obtain information/items that the source has access to, and that can be obtained and delivered by the source in a manner that won't compromise his position.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Two angles

    For a detailed commentary: http://www.spyblog.org.uk

    Why do we assume it was the Chinese government?

    davidbfpo

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    Default Video: "Spies Among High-Ranking Officials" (PRC scandals)


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    Default Chinese telecom firm tied to spy ministry

    A U.S. intelligence report for the first time links China’s largest telecommunications company to Beijing’s KGB-like intelligence service and says the company recently received nearly a quarter-billion dollars from the Chinese government.

    The disclosures are a setback for Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.’s efforts to break into the U.S. telecommunications market. The company has been blocked from doing so three times by the U.S. government because of concerns about its links to the Chinese government.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...-spy-ministry/
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    Everything for the Chinese is fair.

    They are at war!

    Not physical, but benign.

    They want to be Numero Uno!

    It is by hook or by crook.

    And by crook is the easy way out!

  11. #11
    Council Member Kevin23's Avatar
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    Default Chinese intelligence and spying (catch all)

    I've been following on and off over the past year, developments in regards to the PRC's intelligence activities. Especially, since there has been alot of converge about the People's Republic's cyber espionage operations(breaking into secure systems & databases; attempting to put back doors into Chinese made electronic products etc).

    Both successful and failed attempts to commit industrial espionage against a number of private sector companies around the globe. As well as the PRC's attempts both real and accused of trying to solicit information from foreign nationals both in mainland China it's self/in other countries, and from the large Chinese diaspora abroad.

    I've heard some say that the PRC's intelligence operations against the US exceed those of Russia and even the USSR(in it's later years). I've also read that some nations that have dealings with China such as Canada have had both their prominent private and public institutions thoroughly infiltrated by Chinese intelligence.

    However, despite all these instances that are cited both proven and rumored; how big a problem is Chinese espionage actually?

    I mean from what I can tell it's well documented that the PRC's intel collection abilities thorough cyber, open-source, and other means appears quite extensive. Not to mention the numerous Chinese communities throughout the world which provide a good resource pool.

    I'm also skeptical from all I've been hearing about in terms of the PRC's espionage efforts. Since they seem limited in their ability to infiltrate/subvert organizations. Because the Chinese diaspora and cyber intel collection amongst others only goes so far IMO.

    I'd be interested in hearing the opinions of those more knowledgeable then me on this subject. So does the PRC really have that big of a global/western spy operation or is it being hyped to be something larger then it really is?

    Here is an article from the Diplomat on these issues.
    http://the-diplomat.com/2011/09/19/c...ng-spy-threat/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin23 View Post
    However, despite all these instances that are cited both proven and rumored; how big a problem is Chinese espionage actually?
    Massive. The cyber-warfare issue may or may not be hyped or exaggerated; the cyber-espionage issue is not being exaggerated.

    These people invent nothing these days and steal everything. It is the greatest transfer of wealth in history – the director of the NSA has said as much.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin23 View Post
    I'm also skeptical from all I've been hearing about in terms of the PRC's espionage efforts. Since they seem limited in their ability to infiltrate/subvert organizations. Because the Chinese diaspora and cyber intel collection amongst others only goes so far IMO.
    Don't be. They have money and they know how to use it; the PRC money has been pumping money into our political system for years to both parties.

    Cyber-espionage can go pretty damn far if you stop and think about it. We might be better off printing out every government and corporate secret that we have and just dumping it all into China, just to confuse the SOBs. The NSA has come out and said that some form of computer compromise is the new normal, and that no system is secure – even their own.

    Also the US gives the nation of Israel the right to steal whatever the hell it wants in our country; and since the nation of Israel exports little of value other than military technology, Israel inevitably sells its stolen technology to China.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin23 View Post
    So does the PRC really have that big of a global/western spy operation or is it being hyped to be something larger then it really is?
    I think we are only now seeing the tip of the iceberg. The full ramifications wont be seen for decades to come.
    “[S]omething in his tone now reminded her of his explanations of asymmetric warfare, a topic in which he had a keen and abiding interest. She remembered him telling her how terrorism was almost exclusively about branding, but only slightly less so about the psychology of lotteries…” - Zero History, William Gibson

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    I'd say both real and hyped. No doubt there's a threat and an issue, but I also have little doubt that the threat has been oversensationalised. It's also fairly obvious that the same things are being done in the opposite direction, along with various other countermeasures (such as setting up defective or erroneous data for theft). The Chinese are neither omniscient not omnipotent, and the people on the other side are not entirely inept.

    Given that as a general rule the most effective intel operations are the ones that remain unknown, it's very difficult to say what's bigger, better, most extensive or most effective.
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  14. #14
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    Default Advanced Persistent Troll

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    I'd say both real and hyped. No doubt there's a threat and an issue, but I also have little doubt that the threat has been oversensationalised.
    A previous comment of yours in a thread about cyber-espionage demonstrated that you have a poor understanding of information security concepts. Combine that with your reflexive apologizing for China, and I’m not sure your opinion alone on this matter is worth a damn.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    It's also fairly obvious that the same things are being done in the opposite direction,
    So what? China hardly has significantly s&t worth stealing for commercial or military industrial purposes; they invent nothing, they innovate nothing – all they do is copy and steal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Given that as a general rule the most effective intel operations are the ones that remain unknown, it's very difficult to say what's bigger, better, most extensive or most effective.
    The operations uncovered so-far are pretty damned impressive and were pretty effective.
    “[S]omething in his tone now reminded her of his explanations of asymmetric warfare, a topic in which he had a keen and abiding interest. She remembered him telling her how terrorism was almost exclusively about branding, but only slightly less so about the psychology of lotteries…” - Zero History, William Gibson

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    Quote Originally Posted by bourbon View Post
    Massive. The cyber-warfare issue may or may not be hyped or exaggerated; the cyber-espionage issue is not being exaggerated.

    These people invent nothing these days and steal everything. It is the greatest transfer of wealth in history – the director of the NSA has said as much.

    Well, "nothing" is obviously an exaggeration, as is "everything".

    Aside from the unnecessary exaggerations:


    Let's assume you were correct about the "nothing" and "everything". We have a historical precedent for the total exploitation of a country's intellectual property: Germany 1945. All patents, all high profile blueprints - gone to the victors.
    What did it mean? Actually, very little.

    The real transfer was in the captured or hired technicians and scientists.
    Blueprints with no or only minor captured technicians regularly led to minimal or no success.

    The German economy had to be rebuilt, but lack of intellectual property was not among the big problems. Not a single major industry collapsed for this reason. The only key industry that shrank badly was the aviation industry, and that had obvious different reasons in both West and East.


    The real challenge is to make good and timely use of documents, not to get them in the first place.


    Besides; the U.S. isn't that innovative, either.
    The majority of American innovation announcements I know were no innovations, but rather revivals of failed ideas or revivals of European innovations. Now imagine how many of the others were no innovations either and I just didn't know their roots!
    There's a lot of show aptitude involved that deceives many people.

  16. #16
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Default Chinese Industrial Espionage and Academia

    Academia can usually be relied upon to have a passive disloyalty to the Republic, but Professor Xiaoxing Xi was fairly assertive.

    The chairman of Temple University's physics department was charged Thursday in an alleged scheme to provide sensitive U.S. defense technology to entities in China, including its government.

    Federal prosecutors allege Xiaoxing Xi, a world-renowned expert in the field of superconductivity, sought prestigious appointments in China in exchange for sharing information on a device invented by a private company in the United States.

    Xi, a 47-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen who lives in Penn Valley, made his initial appearance in U.S. District Court on Thursday on four counts of wire fraud and was released on a $100,000 bond. He had not retained a lawyer and did not return calls for comment.
    http://articles.philly.com/2015-05-2...s-china-device


    Hackers apparently based in China have had access to Pennsylvania State University’s engineering school computers for over two years, the university disclosed on Friday after a lengthy analysis by federal and private investigators.

    The breach potentially has exposed research pertaining to technology for the U.S. Defense Department.

    The university said it would take the affected computer network offline for several days to root out the hackers.
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/penn-sta...ked-1431804110

    From 2014 -

    A prominent Beijing scholar who recently fled to the United States has warned that China was sending "spies" to American universities, and urged US institutions to tread carefully on academic co-operation.

    Xia Yeliang is one of the original signatories of Charter 08, a petition for reform whose Nobel Prize-winning lead author Liu Xiaobo is in prison.

    Xia, an economist, was fired in October from Peking University. In his first public event since moving to the US last month, Xia said on Thursday he was mindful of the 1950s McCarthy era, when smears of alleged communist sympathies hit the reputations of Americans in government, entertainment and academia.

    But Xia, who has been a visiting scholar at several US universities, said he was aware of "real spies" sent by Beijing to the US to carry out surveillance under the guise of academic exchange.
    http://www.scmp.com/news/china/artic...over-educating

    From 2012 -

    While overshadowed by espionage against corporations, efforts by foreign countries to penetrate universities have increased in the past five years, Figliuzzi said. The FBI and academia, which have often been at loggerheads, are working together to combat the threat, he said.

    Attempts by countries in East Asia, including China, to obtain classified or proprietary information by “academic solicitation,” such as requests to review academic papers or study with professors, jumped eightfold in 2010 from a year earlier, according to a 2011 U.S. Defense Department report. Such approaches from the Middle East doubled, it said.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articl...etected-by-fbi
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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default A guide to Chinese intelligence operations

    Hat tip to WoTR for an extensive commentary, with links, by a SME and starts with - even after the OPM "hack":
    Discussion of China’s intelligence threat often seems over-hyped if not disconnected from reality. Apart from cyber intrusions, little evidence suggests Chinese intelligence deserves the credit for quality that it has received.
    Link:http://warontherocks.com/2015/08/a-g...e-operations/?

    A month ago the author wrote on the OPM matter:http://warontherocks.com/2015/07/chi...united-states/
    davidbfpo

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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) foiled the plan and also prevented the two Chinese partners from trying to acquire engines used in other US fighter jets, according to US federal court documents opened last week quoted in a report by Defense News.
    The court documents allege that AFM Microelectronics Corporation Vice President Wenxia “Wency” Man, based in San Diego, and Xinsheng Zhang, described in the documents as an official arms dealer for the Beijing government, tried to buy and then export the engines to China.
    General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft taxis at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas.
    They targeted the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle and the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine used on the F-35 stealth fighter.

    Read more: http://sputniknews.com/military/2015...#ixzz3pturPLtI


    A woman accused of trying to send an unmanned Hellfire missile-firing drone and jet fighter engines to China via South Florida, pleaded not guilty to federal charges of illegal military weapons brokering Friday in Fort Lauderdale.

    Prosecutors say Wenxia Man, aka Wency, 44, was working with a man she called a "technology spy" who procures information from Russia and other nations "so that China can obtain sophisticated technology without having to conduct its own research."

    The so-called "technology spy," Xinsheng Zhang, was indicted on related charges in South Florida but authorities said he is in China and has not yet been arrested.
    http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/br...023-story.html
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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default This is not looking good, again for the USN.

    A "breaking" story this weekend by John Schindler, as the USN revealed an officer had been in military custody for eight months, charged with espionage whilst serving in ELINT P-3 Orions. The article is critical of the USN following other incidents (IIRC some have appeared on SWC before):http://observer.com/2016/04/amid-sho...er-be-trusted/
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Was that wrong? Should she have not done that?



    A us diplomat who allegedly took tens of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts from chinese intelligence agents was charged on wednesday with lying to investigators over the contacts.
    The case was announced days before the first summit between chinese president xi jinping and his us counterpart donald trump in florida next week, but chinese analysts said the prosecution was unlikely to affect the meeting.
    The department of justice said candace marie claiborne, 60, knew that the two chinese men she had regular contact with while working for the us state department in china and other countries were from the chinese security services and that the money they gave her was in exchange for us secrets.
    She took cash and an iphone for herself, but most of the funds went to an unidentified man half her age with whom she lived in beijing and shanghai.
    http://www.scmp.com/news/china/artic...ligence-agents
    Last edited by AdamG; 03-30-2017 at 12:35 PM.
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