Editor’s Note: The following report is excerpted from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium online newsletter published by the founder of WND. Subscriptions are $99 a year or, for monthly trials, just $9.95 per month for credit card users, and provide instant access for the complete reports.
WASHINGTON – U.S. government agencies remain unprepared to confront the cyber war China is planning against the United States, even though U.S government officials and members of Congress have known about the potential for two years, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
This is the conclusion drawn from recent revelations by WND/G2Bulletin that China has set up electronic “back doors” to remotely access communications technology in the U.S. and other Western countries.
Such an option could be used to disable telecommunications infrastructure components before a military engagement.
The information comes on the heels of another recent WND/G2Bulletin report that China has been manufacturing counterfeit components that have made their way into sensitive U.S. weapons systems.
The problem of fake Chinese electronic components, which were installed by defense contractors without prior testing and are operating in U.S. military systems, is far more widespread than originally thought. The counterfeit components have been found in U.S. missile systems meant to thwart the potential of a Chinese attack, in night vision devices and in various military aircraft.
U.S. government officials who read about the components in WND and G2Bulletin in recent days inquired about the sourcing of the information, particularly revelations about an electronic backdoor which could access and disable America’s government and commercial telecommunications systems.
Yet, the information has been known to the U.S. government and was further disclosed as recently as last March in a report prepared by the U.S. defense aerospace company Northrop Grumman Corp. for the congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The report is titled “Occupying the Information High Ground: Chinese Capabilities for Computer Network Operations and Cyber Espionage.”
The report warned that the Chinese military, through its large Chinese telecommunications firms, has created an avenue for state-sponsored and state-directed penetrations of supply chains for electronics supporting U.S. military, government and civilian industry.
“Successful penetration of a supply chain such as that for the telecommunications industry has the potential to cause the catastrophic failure of systems and networks supporting critical infrastructure for national security or public safety,” the report said.
“Potential effects include providing an adversary with capabilities to gain covert access and monitoring of sensitive systems, to degrade a system’s mission effectiveness, or to insert false information or instructions that could cause premature failure or complete remote control or destruction of the targeted system.”
Ironically, many of the findings of the commission came from Chinese source materials including authoritative People’s Liberation Army publications, the Chinese government ministries responsible for science and technology policy and Chinese defense industries, to name a few.
The report details China’s priority modernization of its command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or C4ISR infrastructure, which has served as a catalyst for the development of an integrated information warfare capability that can defend military and civilian networks while seizing control of information systems of an adversary, such as the U.S., during a conflict.
“Chinese capabilities in computer network operations have advanced sufficiently to pose genuine risk to U.S. military operations in the event of a conflict,” the congressional report said.
The report referred to the potential for the U.S. defending Taiwan in the event of an attack. The U.S. response will depend on the speed and ability of the military to arrive on station with sufficient force to defend Taiwan.
“PLA analysts consistently identify logistics and C4ISR infrastructure as U.S. strategic centers of gravity suggesting that PLA commanders will almost certainly attempt to target these systems with both electronic countermeasure weapons and network attack and exploitation tools, likely in advance of actual combat to delay U.S. entry or degrade capabilities in a conflict.”
The problem for the U.S. is that the effects of preemptive penetrations may not be readily detectable until after combat has begun.
“Even if circumstantial evidence points to China as the culprit,” the report said, “no policy currently exists to easily determine appropriate response options to a large scale attack on U.S. military or civilian networks in which definitive attribution is lacking. Beijing, understanding this, may seek to exploit this gray area in U.S. policymaking and legal frameworks to create delays in U.S. command decision making.”
The report also details the potential risks to the U.S. telecommunications supply chain in which hardware is exposed to innumerable points of possible tampering and must rely on rigorous and often expensive testing to ensure that the semiconductors being delivered are trustworthy and will perform properly.
As WND/G2Bulletin has reported, however, such components obtained from China through U.S. defense contractors often are not tested, raising the prospect high of compromising U.S. systems and being virtually undetectable as to the origin of the defect.
These developments, including U.S. government agency inquiries to WND/G2Bulletin, strongly suggest that no policy exists on this growing problem of electronic backdoor espionage at the hands principally of the Chinese, even though the U.S. government has been aware of the issue for some time.
Another report said the issue appears to be connected to “unvetted independent distributors who supply electronic parts for critical military applications.”
The problem of faked or counterfeit products from China, as well as contaminated products, are issues on which WND has reported for years.
WND columnist Phyllis Schlafly wrote last year about fake computer chips that were being purchased by the U.S. military for use in U.S. warplanes, ships and communications networks.
She wrote that malfunctions traced to the chips were being reported as early as 2005. Targeted were computers aboard U.S. F-15 fighter jets at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia.
Even at that point, officials said at least 15 percent of the spare and replacement chips the Pentagon was buying were counterfeit.
Officials in the National Intelligence Agency and the FBI expressed concern then that the fakes could let the Chinese gain access to secure systems inside the United States.
Schlafly wrote at the time: “The U.S. bought 59,000 counterfeit microchips from China for use in our warships, planes, missile and antimissile systems but fortunately were discovered they are fake in time. How many didn’t we catch?”
One Senate investigator even discovered that electronic components had been harvested from “e-waste” and sometimes were sold on public sidewalks and in public markets in China.
There also are whole factories in China with up to 15,000 people employed for the purpose of counterfeiting products.
WND has not been alone in its reporting. DefenseTech also reported on the danger: “You don’t have to be a genius to see the safety nightmare presented by fake parts on incredibly complex systems like submarines, fighter jets and tiltrotors.”
On a related issue, WND has led the way in reporting on contaminated or defective consumer products coming out of China.
During a one-month period, 17 of 28 products recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission were Chinese imports.
- Hammock stands that are unstable and cause those who use them to fall to the ground in alarming numbers: About 3,000 imported by Algoma Net Co. of Wisconsin and sold in Kohl’s, Target and other retail outlets have been called back. There have been at least 28 reports of brackets cracking or breaking and consumers falling to the ground.
- Toy castles that could choke your young child: Some 68,000 Shape Sorting Toy Castles produced by Infantino were recalled after at least four reports of children nearly choking on colored beads that slid off the toy and lodged in their throats.
- Kids jewelry that could poison them: About 20,000 Essentials for Kids Jewelry Sets have been recalled by the CPSC because of toxic levels of lead in the paint – a frequent problem with products from China.
- Magnet toys that could perforate your child’s intestines: About 800 Mag Stix Magnetic Building Sets were recalled by the CPSC, which found the plastic sticks can be swallowed or aspirated. The agency found one 8-year-old girl was hospitalized after swallowing loose magnets. Extensive surgery was required to remove the magnets and repair intestinal perforations.
Other products found to have problems were portable baby swings that entrap youngsters, swimming pool ladders that break, faulty baby carriers that result in babies falling out and getting bruised, Easy-Bake Ovens that trap children’s fingers in openings, resulting in burns, oscillating tower fans whose faulty wiring results in fires, exploding air pumps, oil-filled electric heaters that burn down homes, notebook computer batteries that burn up computers and circular saws with faulty blade guards.
Found to have been contaminated in recent years are Chinese products ranging from pet food to seafood intended for humans.
A WND study showed the Food and Drug Administration found products intended for human consumption tainted with pesticides, carcinogens, bacteria and banned drugs.
China was found to be raising most of its fish products – intended for the U.S. – in water contaminated with raw sewage and compensating by using dangerous drugs and chemicals, many of which are banned by the Food and Drug Administration.
Also, the deadly contaminant found in Chinese-made toothpaste – diethylene glycol – is a solvent used in antifreeze that killed 107 Americans when it was introduced in an elixir 70 years ago.
A resurgence in lead-poisoning cases in U.S. children was linked to Chinese imports – toys, makeup, glazed pottery and other products that contain significant amounts of lead and are being recalled by the CPSC on a regular basis.
Imports from China were recalled by the CPSC twice as often as products made everywhere else in the world, including the U.S., showed a WND study of 2007 government reports.
WND reported how China was shipping to the U.S. honey tainted with a potentially life-threatening antibiotic as well as adulterating exports with sugar.
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