Category Archives: Espionage

Chinese Defector Reveals Beijing’s Secrets

A defector from China has revealed some of the innermost secrets of the Chinese government and military, including details of its nuclear command and control system, according to American intelligence officials.

Businessman Ling Wancheng disappeared from public view in California last year shortly after his brother, Ling Jihua, a former high-ranking official in the Communist Party, was arrested in China on corruption charges.

Ling Wancheng, the defector, has been undergoing a debrief by FBI, CIA, and other intelligence officials since last fall at a secret location in the United States, said officials familiar with details of the defection who spoke on condition of anonymity. The defector is said to be a target of covert Chinese agents seeking to capture or kill him.

Chinese Defector Reveals Beijing’s Secrets

China and Russia are using hacked data to target U.S. spies, officials say – LA Times

Foreign spy services, especially in China and Russia, are aggressively aggregating and cross-indexing hacked U.S. computer databases — including security clearance applications, airline records and medical insurance forms — to identify U.S. intelligence officers and agents, U.S. officials said.

At least one clandestine network of American engineers and scientists who provide technical assistance to U.S. undercover operatives and agents overseas has been compromised as a result, according to two U.S. officials.

The Obama administration has scrambled to boost cyberdefenses for federal agencies and crucial infrastructure as foreign-based attacks have penetrated government websites and email systems, social media accounts and, most important, vast data troves containing Social Security numbers, financial information, medical records and other personal data on millions of Americans.

China and Russia are using hacked data to target U.S. spies, officials say – LA Times

Chinese Student Spies Overwhelm US – The Epoch Times

“He added, however, that the approach has been shockingly effective. “The Chinese are getting everything,” he said.”

According to sources, the grooming process typically takes place before the students leave to study abroad. They may get approached by Chinese security officials who remind them to remain loyal to the motherland, and ask them to report back with anything that could benefit China.

For them, spying is often viewed as a matter of patriotic duty.

Williams said the approach typically works because the Chinese spy agencies don’t ask the students for much. The individual contribution, he noted, is often so minuscule that many may not even think of what they’re doing as espionage.

Spies of a Different Type

It’s because of China’s broad-brush approach to espionage that Chinese spies are typically regarded as sloppy and careless by other security agencies.

Williams said that in the spy world, three rules are followed: “Don’t get caught, don’t get caught, and don’t get caught.” Most other countries have elaborate precautions in place to ensure their agents don’t get caught.

With China, the rules are different. “They just lie if they get caught,” Williams said. “It’s surprising how few precautions they take and how many risks they take.”

He added, however, that the approach has been shockingly effective. “The Chinese are getting everything,” he said.

Chinese Student Spies Overwhelm US – The Epoch Times

Intelligence: The Plot To Oppress China

Recently the U.S. charged a Chinese citizen (Su Bin), based in Canada, of working with two Chinese hackers to steal technical data for American military aircraft (especially the C-17, F-22 and F-35). The thefts took place between 2009 and 2013. These three appear to be freelancers, although Su Bin had plenty of contacts with Chinese aviation firms and thus had no problem finding buyers for whatever the trio obtained. Su Bin was recently arrested in Canada and is being extradited back to the United States for trial.

In the last few years more American officials have come to openly admit that a whole lot of American military and commercial technical data has been stolen via Chinese Internet (and more conventional) espionage efforts. The Americans are not providing details of exactly how they collected all the evidence, but apparently it is pretty convincing for many American politicians and senior officials who had previously been skeptical. The Chinese efforts have resulted in most major American weapons systems having tech details revealed, in addition to a lot of non-defense technology. It’s not just the United States that is being hit but most nations with anything worth stealing. Many of these nations are noticing that China is the source of most of this espionage and few are content to remain silent any longer.

Intelligence: The Plot To Oppress China

China Spy Ship Hawaii – Business Insider

Whatever intelligence China may be trying to glean from the more than 20 nations taking part in the exercise may set the country up to be disinvited to the next one. While a U.S. Navy spokesman told the Journal participants are usually invited back, at least one member of congress is not happy with the apparent intelligence gathering.

“Now we learn they chose to disrespect the 20 other international participants by sailing an intelligence gathering ship directly into the middle of the exercise,” Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, told USNI. “It is clear China is not ready to be a responsible partner and that their first trip to RIMPAC should probably be their last.”

China Spy Ship Hawaii – Business Insider

Why We Need to Spy on the Germans – The Daily Beast

I’ve lived and loved in Germany, count Berlin as one of my favorite cities, and—pending reactions to this article—may even move back there someday. But given its intense business and political ties to Russia and Iran, and Moscow’s decades-long cultivation of intelligence assets and collaborators from the first Cold War up through the current one, American intelligence agencies would be crazy not to conduct intensive espionage operations in Germany.

Ever since its postwar rebirth as the divided city at the geographic and intellectual heart of the Cold War, Berlin has been a nest of spies. The Glienecke bridge, connecting what was then Soviet-controlled territory to the American Sector in West Berlin, served as an exchange point for captured intelligence officers, earning it the nickname “Bridge of Spies.” Berlin is something of a default setting for Cold War spy novels, and for good reason: split between the Soviets and the Western powers, the city was ground zero for espionage.

Why We Need to Spy on the Germans – The Daily Beast

As the Ice Melts, Spying in the Arctic is Hitting Cold War Levels | Smart News | Smithsonian

Global climate change is pushing Arctic sea ice levels to an all-time low, and the void is being filled by spy ships and military vessels. According to a report from the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service—the equivalent of the American Central Intelligence Agency—“Canada has been experiencing levels of espionage comparable to the height of the Cold War,” says the Associated Press.

With access to new oil and gas developments opening up, countries including Russia, America, Canada, Norway and Denmark have levelled their intelligence and militaristic gazes on the North, Karl Ritter reports for the AP. Those countries—along with Finland, Iceland and Sweden—have land claims in the Arctic and sit on the intergovernmental Arctic Council. Ritter says a new $250 million Norwegian spy ship is set to start collecting information on the Russians in 2016. Elsewhere, nations are falling along the familiar East-West divide.

As the Ice Melts, Spying in the Arctic is Hitting Cold War Levels | Smart News | Smithsonian

U.S. Suspicions of China’s Huawei Based Partly on NSA’s Own Spy Tricks – IEEE Spectrum

Fears of Chinese espionage based on “back doors” built into computer hardware have prompted the U.S. government to block China’s technology giant Huawei from doing business on U.S. shores. Such suspicions may come in large part from the knowledge that U.S. spies have already learned how to install similar “back doors” in computer hardware and software.

Snowden’s Latest Leak: NSA Is Building a Quantum Computer – Defense One

“A working quantum computer would open the door to easily breaking the strongest encryption tools in use today,” explains The Washington Post, which first reported the leak Thursday.

A quantum computer isn’t limited by 1s and zeros. It introduces many more levels of complexity by tapping into the weird physics of electrons, which can operate in several states simultaneously. Quantum computers introduce many shades of 1 and zero. Or to make your head explode, a qubit (a quantum bit) can be both a 1 and a zero at the same time.

And here’s why that’s a game changer: “Dividing or multiplying numbers is fairly easy for any computer, but determining the factors of a really large 500- or 600-digit number is next to impossible for classical computers,” explains National Geographic. “But quantum computers can process these numbers easily and simultaneously.” And modern-day encryption, explains the University of Waterloo, more or less relies on “math problems that are too tough to solve.”

Snowden’s Latest Leak: NSA Is Building a Quantum Computer – Defense One

RealClearWorld – Why America Spies on Brazil

President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil canceled her visit to President Obama. She was offended because the United States was peeking into her electronic mail. You don’t do that to a friendly country. The information, probably reliable, was provided by Edward Snowden from his refuge in Moscow.

Intrigued, I asked a former U.S. ambassador, “Why did they do it?” His explanation was starkly frank:

“From Washington’s perspective, the Brazilian government is not exactly friendly. By definition and history, Brazil is a friendly country that sided with us during World War II and Korea, but its present government is not.”

The ambassador and I are old friends. “May I identify you by name?” I asked. “No,” he answered. “It would create a huge problem for me. But you may transcribe our conversation.” I shall do so here.

RealClearWorld – Why America Spies on Brazil