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US allies are spying with bugged software

A "national outrage" one expert calls it

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Internet Security Threat Report 2014

America's allies, like France, and her adversaries, like China, are selling flawed software and hardware which can divert sensitive data from US corporations and government bureaus back to the country of origin, security outfit iDefense CEO James Adams claims. "If you buy a piece of hardware or software from several countries, among them some of our allies, there is real concern that you will be buying doctored equipment that will siphon copies of all material that passes across that equipment," Adams warned in testimony before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee last week. Adams mentioned France and China by name, because in those countries there is a pronounced "blurring of boundaries between the public and private sectors. What the [national government] does, it does on behalf of the private sector," he noted. Of course we could name two dozen countries off the top of our heads where that is equally the case, and we took Adams to mean that high-tech equipment from Russia, Israel, Japan, India, and the rest we have in mind should be treated with the same skepticism. "Some thirty countries have aggressive information warfare programs, and all of them have America in their sights," Adams warned. He said it is absurdly easy for foreign nationals to steal US intellectual property, both public and private, because American businesses and government bureaus simply don't understand the threat. "The awareness among CEOs and CIOs in the private sector is lamentable," he said. "And the way America's technological advantage is being exploited is a national outrage." By way of illustration, Adams said that during a recent intelligence strategy meeting convened to identify future threats, it was agreed by all that China is a "very significant threat to the United States." But at that same meeting, a "senior officer of one of America's leading high technology companies described an investment decision about a new and revolutionary technology product," he recalled. The company was looking for a location with cheap labour and a good supply of engineers. And where did they build their new factory? Why China, naturally. An entertaining scene, we are sure. But we have to ask, with generous intellectual property giveaways like that, who needs to bother writing bugged software? ®

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