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Oct 09

Further to the “Comments”–especially 5. regarding Ontario–at this post,

The Dragon and the Bear, Hacking and Spying

two stories from earlier this year:

1) Nortel hacked to bits

 

Under mounting pressure to prove China-based hackers had infiltrated the vast global computer network of Nortel Networks Corp. all the way to the chief executive’s terminal, Brian Shields says he had no choice but to go rogue.

Armed with nearly two decades doing security for the now-defunct Canadian company whose technology still powers telecommunications networks around the world, he had spent a day just before Christmas 2008 digging through the Web browsing history of then CEO Mike Zafirovski, known to colleagues as ‘Mike Z’. Mr. Shields was convinced there were criminals working on behalf of China’s Huawei Technologies Co. accessing the CEO’s files, but his hunch hadn’t been enough for his immediate bosses to grant him direct access to the top man’s PC…

2) Nortel turned to RCMP about cyber hacking in 2004, ex-employee says

Nortel Networks Corp. approached the RCMP about Chinese industrial espionage in 2004 but got no help from Canadian law enforcement or intelligence agencies, according to a former employee concerned about the theft of valuable intellectual property.

Brian Shields, a 19-year Nortel veteran who served as a senior systems security adviser, told The Globe and Mail that the company received little help from security agencies and was only approached by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service shortly before Nortel filed for bankruptcy in 2009…

Reports of hacking at Nortel have refocused attention on industrial espionage, possibly from China, and comes shortly after Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies inked two network deals with Canadian wireless carriers BCE Inc. and Telus Corp. during Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s trade mission to China.

Mr. Shields said an internal investigation showed that for almost a decade, hackers from China downloaded “volumes” of internal Nortel documents, from top-secret R&D to business plans…

Huawei, now the world’s second-biggest network equipment maker, on Wednesday said “this unseemly speculation is unfortunate.”

But one telecom industry veteran said that around 2004, it was clear to many that Huawei was copying Nortel’s telecom hardware, and even its instruction manuals.

Maybe we should ask the US House intelligence committee to investigate seeing as no-one up here seems to have done much–at least that’s been made public. And the Ontario government has given money to Huawei. Go figure.

Mark Collins is a prolific Ottawa blogger

7 Responses to “Mark Collins - Huawei, Nortel and Dirty Work at the Network”

  1. MarkOttawa Says:

    Canadian angle from the House intelligence committee chairman:

    ‘Canada ‘at risk’ from Chinese firm, U.S. warns
    Head of U.S. committee says ordinary Canadians should be worried about Huawei

    …in an exclusive interview with CBC News, committee chairman Mike Rogers warns that Canada is equally at risk.

    The world’s second-largest telecommunications equipment supplier, Huawei is already providing high-speed networks for Bell Canada, Telus, SaskTel and Wind Mobile – deals that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has openly applauded.

    But the next big deal could be helping to build a new super-secure telecom system for the Canadian government, a multi-billion project in part to replace data systems contaminated beyond repair by a massive Chinese cyber-attack in 2010.

    Allowing Huawei near any part of that network, says the chairman of the U.S. Intelligence Committee, could be courting disaster…

    While there is little concrete proof to back Rogers’ claim, a former Canadian spymaster agrees it is certainly possible.

    Ray Boisvert, who until recently was assistant deputy director of intelligence for Canada’s spy agency, told CBC News: “The threat comes down to…can a company that manufactures hardware embed certain codes that would allow them to back-door a lot of information that goes through the network?

    ”I have seen it hands-on through my own experience. It is true.”

    In the past two years, Canada has been hard-hit by China-based cyber-attacks on government, corporations and even Bay Street law firms.

    The latest attack managed to penetrate the computer systems of a Calgary-based company that makes the digital control systems for almost all of Canada’s oil and gas pipelines.

    Rogers says allowing the Chinese access to American or Canadian telecom networks simply isn’t logical.

    “China is the leading cyber-espionage country in the world today,” he said. “Why we would open up our networks, and give them control of our information doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”..

    The Canadian government referred all questions about Huawei to the federal department responsible for building the new secure telecommunications network.

    Shared Services Canada
    http://www.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/medias-media/dm-ms/2011-08-04-eng.html
    http://www.ssc-spc.gc.ca/index-eng.html
    issued a statement saying the government “takes cyber-security seriously and operates on the advice of security experts.”

    The government has given itself the power to exclude Huawei from the entire network project, but won’t say if it has any intention of doing so…

    U.S. and Australia have bans on Huawei

    In contrast, both the U.S. and Australia have simply banned Huawei from bidding on major telecommunications projects, or attempting to take over American companies…’
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/10/09/huawei-canada-weston-interview.html

    Mark Collins

  2. MarkOttawa Says:

    One hopes this headline is not inaccurate:

    “Ottawa set to ban Chinese firm from telecommunications bid”
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-set-to-ban-chinese-firm-from-telecommunications-bid/article4600199/

    And this piece is very much worth the read, esp. regarding how the government regards intelligence:

    ‘Canada needs to take threat of Chinese cyberespionage more seriously: former top [counter-] spy

    Have the security implications of Huawei been discussed in places like the Langevin Block? 24 Sussex? Your old shop at Blair and Ogilvie?

    I’ll [Ray Boisvert, erstwhile assistant deputy director of intelligence for CSIS] just say that I know, when I was at CSIS, these issues were raised. Whether they have an audience or not, I’ll leave that for others to comment on.

    Canada has taken a look at those issues when the larger telecommunications companies [Telus, Bell, Rogers] wanted to buy Huawei equipment.

    The role of CSIS is to give advice to Industry Canada.

    So Industry Canada plays the middle man role – in terms of responding to concerns that industry may have [to government] or bringing those concerns the security community may have to industry.

    Isn’t there always a tension between the security guys and the “Do Business” guys? Does it make any sense to put the cybersecurity issue within the “Do Business” Ministry?

    There is certainly a tension. It’s a tension that an organization like CSIS is fully aware of.’
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canada-needs-to-take-threat-of-chinese-cyberespionage-more-seriously-former-top-spy/article4598561/

    More from Mr Boisvert, and others, here:

    “John Ivison: China relationship requires fine balance between trade and security”
    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/10/09/john-ivison-china-relationship-requires-fine-balance-between-trade-and-security/

    I’ll say.

    Mark Collins

  3. MarkOttawa Says:

    Also to the point [further links at original]:

    ‘Jonathan Kay: Chinese spy threat demands coherent response from Ottawa
    ..
    Writing specifically on the proposed purchase of oil and gas producer Nexen by the Chinese National Offshore Oil Company, Calgary Herald columnist Barry Cooper recently dismissed all such concerns as paranoia. “Muttered imprecations about Chinese spies” is how he put it. But concerns about Chinese foul play, including foul play committed under the veil of arm’s length corporate deal-making, are very real.

    The distinction between corporate and governmental affairs does not exist in China in the way it exists here in the West. Chinese companies, whether private or government-owned, often are enlisted in Beijing’s policies, especially in the fields of internet censorship and online sleuthing. Mr. Cooper and others may not think much of injecting “moralism” into international trade decisions. But the factors at play with such cases as Huawei and ZTE are not about abstract moralism, but rather concrete threats to U.S. cybersecurity and sensitive industrial domains. The same is true of Chinese involvement in critical resource sectors here in Canada.

    In poorer countries that have little intellectual property to protect, on the other hand, China’s attitude veers toward the neo-colonial. Many Chinese investments in Africa, for instance, consist of plantation-type fiefdoms — such as the Zambian coal mine where two Chinese mine managers (not police or army troops — but mine managers) used live ammunition to quell protests in 2010, injuring 11. (The shooters were charged with attempted murder.) As a Financial Times writer noted, “Imagine if managers from a western multinational – say an ExxonMobil or an Anglo American – were responsible. The hue and cry would be loud. Chinese mistreatment of African workers gets considerably less attention … It does appear to be a fairly egregious example of private interests taking the law into their own hands – a phenomenon familiar to Cecil Rhodes and other pioneering colonial era entrepreneurs who beat a path to Africa long before the Chinese.”..’
    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/10/10/jonathan-kay-chinese-spy-threat-demands-coherent-response-from-ottawa/

    Relevant:

    ‘“Socialism” with Dragon characteristics at work in Africa’
    http://unambig.com/socialism-with-dragon-characteristics-at-work-in-africa/

    “Beware the Almighty Dragon Dollar”
    http://www.cdfai.org/the3dsblog/?p=1157

    “Beware the Almighty Dragon Dollar, Part 2″
    http://www.cdfai.org/the3dsblog/?p=1168

    Mark Collins

  4. MarkOttawa Says:

    This Wall St. Journal piece may draw US attention to Canada, not necessarily to our favour:

    “Huawei’s Business Grows in Canada
    A scathing U.S. congressional report may make it tough for Huawei to win new American business, but it’s enjoying a warmer reception in Canada.”
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443294904578046870276070196.html

    Mark Collins

  5. MarkOttawa Says:

    Well they would, wouldn’t they?

    “Huawei’s U.S. competitors among those pushing for scrutiny of Chinese tech firm”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/huaweis-us-competitors-among-those-pushing-for-scrutiny-of-chinese-tech-firm/2012/10/10/b84d8d16-1256-11e2-a16b-2c110031514a_story.html?wpisrc=nl_cuzheads

    Mark Collins

  6. MarkOttawa Says:

    And this is interesting, from David Akin:

    “Huawei’s problem? It ain’t the secret backdoors but wide-open front doors”
    http://blogs.canoe.ca/davidakin/technology/huaweis-problem-it-aint-the-secret-backdoors-but-wide-open-front-doors/

    Mark Collins

  7. MarkOttawa Says:

    3Ds and Google: if one searches under “huawei nortel” this post comes up #7:
    https://www.google.ca/search?q=huawei+nortel&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&client=firefox-a

    Not bad.

    Mark Collins

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