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NSA’s Data Harvesting Policy Makes Foreign Governments Cautious Guarding Secrets

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The Chinese Government intends to adopt a five-year cybersecurity program, part of a plan announced against cyber confrontation with the United States, while European decision makers are also reducing cooperation with NSA.

nsa treasure map 2

China’s concern with cyber-security was given a powerful boost following the revelations of the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about the universal surveillance capabilities of the US intelligence agencies undertaking questionable practices to intercept all kind of data over the World Wide Web and straddle international communication lines, according to Russian media.

The plan is expected to refocus software purchase of the Chinese national government agencies and institutions to domestically-developed products, a senior official of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology revealed on Thursday, as cited by the official China Daily.

“The government will focus on strengthening the safety of software in the financial sector and for applications used by government departments and State-owned enterprises this year”, said Chen Wei, director of the software bureau at the ministry. “We are expecting to see breakthroughs in advanced domestic software development within the next five years,” he added, suggesting that the proportion of Chinese software acquired by way of government procurement has seen steady growth.

The US National Security Agency reportedly spied on the major Chinese networking company Huawei during an intelligence campaign against China, as German press had previously reported. Chinese politicians such as former president Hu Jintao, the Trade Ministry, as well as banks and telecommunications companies were also targeted. Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the 2009 operation dubbed “Shotgiant” against Huawei, the major competitor of US-based Cisco. The NSA made a special effort to target Huawei, the company is the world’s second largest network equipment supplier. A special unit with the US intelligence agency succeeded in infiltrating Huawei’s network and copied a list of 1,400 customers as well as internal documents providing training to engineers on the use of Huawei products, among other things.

The Americans were able to read a large share of the email sent by company workers beginning in January 2009, including messages from company CEO Ren Zhengfei and Chairwoman Sun Yafang, according to a top secret NSA presentation, mentioned by the New York Times. American officials have repeatedly said that the N.S.A. breaks into foreign networks only for legitimate national security purposes.

“We do not give intelligence we collect to U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line. Many countries cannot say the same”, said Caitlin M. Hayden, a White House spokeswoman, at that time.

In October 2014, NSA agents infiltrated communication companies from China, Germany and South Korea. Snowden leaked documents revealed, as hotforsecurity.com had written before, that the NSA has physically infiltrated and compromised devices and networks from communication companies within China, Germany and South Korea during their “physical subversion” programs.

US officials had also blamed China for hackings targeting U.S. companies, and warned enterprises to stay on guard to prevent future breaches, according to Reuters. In October 2014, the agency said in got information regarding a group of Chinese cyber-actors affiliated to the Beijing government, who were regularly stealing “high-value information from U.S. commercial and government networks through cyber espionage.”

Recently, German intelligence has drastically reduced its cooperation with the US National Security Agency in response to a growing fallout over their alleged joint surveillance of European officials and companies, according to media reports. Last year, EU executive had constantly threatened to freeze crucial data-sharing arrangements with the US because of the same Snowden revelations about the mass surveillance of the NSA.

The National Security Agency was – and allegedly still is – secretly providing data to nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies via (or through) a “Google-like” search engine built to share more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats, according to classified documents obtained by The Intercept and released in May 2014.

About the author

Răzvan MUREȘAN

Former business journalist, Razvan is passionate about supporting SMEs into building communities and exchanging knowledge on entrepreneurship. He enjoys having innovative approaches on hot topics and thinks that the massive amount of information that attacks us on a daily basis via TV and internet makes us less informed than we even think. The lack of relevance is the main issue in nowadays environment so he plans to emphasize real news on hotforsecurity.com

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