Feeds

Britain warns businesses of Chinese 'honey trap'

Sex, spies, and memory sticks

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Britain's MI5 security service has accused the Chinese government of engaging in an unusually wide-ranging campaign to breach UK business computer networks, in some cases exploiting sexual relationships to pressure individuals to cooperate.

The so-called "honey trap" methods were aimed at business executives at trade shows and exhibitions and involved offers of "lavish hospitality and flattery," according to an article in The Sunday Times. The New York Times quickly confirmed the report. The effort also involved the giving of digital cameras and memory sticks designed to surreptitiously install malware on users' PCs.

The Sunday Times cited a 14-page document titled "The Threat from Chinese Espionage" that was prepared in 2008 by MI5's Center for the Protection of National Infrastructure. A "restricted" version of the document was distributed to hundreds of British financial institutions and businesses. It described attacks on British defense, energy, communications, and manufacturing companies. It specifically named the Chinese government as engaging in the honey trap campaigns.

"Chinese intelligence services have also been known to exploit vulnerabilities such as sexual relationships and illegal activities to pressurize individuals to cooperate with them," it stated. "Hotel rooms in major Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shanghai which have been frequented by foreigners are likely to be bugged. Hotel rooms have been searched while the occupants are out of the room."

The report, which was issued more than a year ago, followed an earlier MI5 letter distributed in late 2007 that warned some 300 leaders of British businesses to be on the lookout for state-sponsored Chinese hackers carrying out electronic surveillance attacks. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.