As you surely know, Google has accused China of hacking into its systems and is considering pulling out of China altogether. The U.S. government is taking this seriously, and Google has partnered with the NSA (National Security Agency) to get to the bottom of this. What you may not know is that the United Kingdom’s MI5 — Americans can think of this as a combination of the FBI and CIA — has reported that the Chinese government has been giving UK executives electronics with built-in security holes.
According to the Sunday Times, “A leaked MI5 document says that undercover intelligence officers from the People’s Liberation Army and the Ministry of Public Security have also approached UK businessmen at trade fairs and exhibitions with the offer of ‘gifts’ and ‘lavish hospitality.’ The gifts — cameras and memory sticks — have been found to contain electronic Trojan bugs which provide the Chinese with remote access to users’ computers.”
That’s bad. But why, if these stories are true, should the Chinese government stop there? U.S. and British citizens buy billions of dollars every year of Chinese-made USB memory sticks, computers, hard drives, and cameras. Why not just add security holes as a matter of course to the firmware of all of them?
It’s not hard. Heck. It’s trivial.