Thursday, June 14, 2012

China tech company admits hacking U.S. telecoms

Electronic 'backdoor' could let outsiders sabotage U.S. systems, sites

 ST001118 By F. Michael Maloof / WND

WASHINGTON – A major Chinese telecommunications company has been boasting how it was able to hack into U.S. and international telecommunications networks and intercept what it suggested was “malicious” data.

The claim was made at a conference held in Dubai in February by officials with the Chinese firm Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., and left specialists who attended the seminar alarmed.

They told WND that’s because while Huawei may consider the data “malicious,” the act of intercepting and extracting data means the Chinese company also could steal sensitive information or even alter the function of computer systems where the company’s products are installed.

Huawei, which is tied to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, displayed in a PowerPoint-type presentation that it had capabilities in “in-depth traffic analysis to enhance network control,” which a source to WND who attended the conference said meant that it could intercept data and collect it.

The event was the Intelligence Supportive Systems World Middle East and African Law Enforcement, Intelligence and Homeland Security conference in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year.

There, sources report, Huawei readily admitted that it was undertaking such data interception and collection.

The ISS conference is an annual gathering of Middle East and African law enforcement, intelligence and homeland security telecom operators responsible for “lawful interception, electronic investigations and network intelligence gathering,” according to the ISS agenda. A similar event is scheduled from March 4-6, 2013, also in Dubai.

In its presentation, Huawei said that it had this capability using a particular technology called Deep Packet Inspection, or DPI.

DPI is the key technology in high capacity data interception and mining, according to the WND source who asked not to be named but attended the Huawei briefing.

WND has obtained a copy of Huawei’s DPI briefing.

While Huawei’s presentation of its DPI capability was meant to show how it protected Huawei-equipped networks by detecting malicious code, sources said that the very same technology “can be very effectively used to conduct widespread industrial espionage and breach national telecommunications security.”

Huawei reportedly has operations in some 140 countries and serves 45 of the world’s 50 largest telecom operators. It is the second largest supplier of mobile telecommunications infrastructure equipment in the world after Ericsson. It also has a subsidiary in the United States, located in Herndon, Va.

The magnitude of its operations worldwide has alarmed national security specialists who say that Huawei’s covert capability to remotely access communications technology sold to the United States and other Western countries could disable a country’s telecommunications infrastructure before a military engagement.

The Chinese government through the company’s “electronic backdoors” of telecommunications networks has the ability to exploit networks to steal technology and trade secrets or even to sabotage electronic devices, according to various sources.

With this capability, China would be in a position to sabotage critical U.S. weapons systems and sensitive cyber sites, all of which could include intelligence or systems used by defense contractors doing work on behalf of the Department of Defense or the U.S. intelligence community.

Experts say that DPI generally is a restricted technology because it is so pervasive. It operates at what experts call “line speeds” of up to multiples of 10 gigabytes per second and can “read” every packet in a data stream.

“Once you have access to every piece of data in a data stream,” the WND source said, “you can do literally anything with it. You can copy it, you can restrict it, you can control it – all at line speed – without any degradation of the signal.

“The challenge really is dealing with the volume of traffic in high speed links but, with advanced software, folks managing DPI appliances in networks have the capability of using advanced techniques such as protocol identification to strip out the stuff they want,” the source added. “When I say ‘strip out,’ in the Chinese sense, I mean intercept and copy.”

Huawei’s DPI presentation also referred to detecting and controlling “illegal applications” and referred to “VPNs” as an example.

VPNs are a traditional way that users can bypass content security measures and provide secure access to corporate and government networks.

The Huawei DPI presentation also referred to identifying and restricting URLs, or uniform resource locators, in which it can see and control everything that a computer user looks at online.

While the DPI brief referred to “porn, illegal, violent (sic) and gambling” as URLs that Huawei can block, the source said the company was “very clearly using that capability” for its own activities and, once the technology is deployed, these applications can be remotely accessed.

“So, a network that (Huawei) monitors potentially without the carrier’s knowledge in South America, Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Botswana or even Virginia can be remotely and surreptitiously monitored and potentially controlled,” the source said.

Huawei also referred to the mundane term “traffic mirroring,” which the source said is “plain and simple data interception.”

Because Huawei is involved in mirroring – intercepting data – the source added if the Chinese company can routinely do such mirroring remotely, then any network that contains Huawei equipment by extension would be capable of this activity.

In this regard, the source said he and his company were tasked with doing a major network assessment for a country’s telecommunications system.

During that assessment, the source said, there was inadvertently discovered “undocumented administrator accounts” in all of the Huawei core network routers.

When equipment is shipped, the source said, it comes with default passwords and these are usually changed to unique company standards.

As part of source’s “assessment procedure,” the source checked and ran a non-standard routine to identify all of the user accounts and that was “how we inadvertently discovered the second and undocumented administrator accounts and took ‘screen shots’ to record their existence.”

When they went back to look at them again, “they all mysteriously disappeared – with no trace in the router logs as to how it happened,” referring to going back to examine the undocumented administrator accounts.

Rather than a “simple network security issue,” the source said he and his security consultant team began to realize that “this was much more of a national security issue.”

The source said that the undocumented administrator accounts had been “mysteriously erased, we suspected remotely, as nothing was showing in the router logs to indicate how it happened or that they ever existed in the first place.”

He said that Huawei has special teams of Chinese engineers who fly in, often in chartered jets, when a network experiences “certain technical problems” but the network equipment never is allowed to be examined or fixed locally.

The source said that such technology also could be used to intercept communications in intercontinental undersea cables deployed at 3,000 meters (9,843 feet) under the sea.

He said that Huawei Marine, which is rolling out thousands of miles of intercontinental communications cable beneath the seas, complete with deep-sea fiber optic boosters every 50 miles, can very easily conduct covert, DPI surveillance, entirely undetected.

“Embedding these capabilities in any network means…(that) they can then intercept and control those networks in any way they like,” the source said. “I am so worried about Chinese cyber warfare threats, their abilities to monitor and remotely shut down international communications networks, including critical infrastructure networks in Western countries.

“Forget just looking for malicious code,” he said. “They could just as easily identify encrypted missile launch commands, radar and defense communications, critical infrastructure command and control networks and while they may not be able to necessarily decrypt and control them, being able to block them in networks is almost as effective as a cyber-warfare strategy.”

The source also was quick to point out that many critical infrastructure networks are not encrypted and operate openly.

As WND has previously reported, U.S. government agencies seem unprepared to confront the cyber war China apparently is planning against the U.S., even though U.S. government officials and members of Congress have known about this potential for at least four years.

Last March in a report prepared by the U.S. defense aerospace company Northrop Grumman Corp. for the congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, it warned that the Chinese military through its large Chinese telecommunications firms has created an avenue for state-sponsored and state-directed penetrations of supply chains for electronics supporting US. military, government and civilian industry.

“Successful penetration of a supply chain such as that for the telecommunications industry has the potential to cause the catastrophic failure of systems and networks supporting critical infrastructure for national security or public safety,” the report said.

“Potential effects include providing an adversary with capabilities to gain covert access and monitoring of sensitive systems, to degrade a system’s mission effectiveness, or to insert false information or instructions that could cause premature failure or complete remote control or destruction of the targeted system.”

The report, titled “Occupying the Information High Ground: Chinese Capabilities for Computer Network Operations and Cyber Espionage,” said that many of the findings actually came from Chinese source materials including authoritative PLA publications.

The report specifically had singled out Huawei and ZTE Corp. as examples of high technology companies the Chinese government could use to enter remotely into telecommunications systems and computers linked to them to gain undetected access to sensitive data.

“Chinese capabilities in computer network operations have advanced sufficiently to pose genuine risk to U.S. military operations in the event of a conflict,” the congressional report said. “PLA analysts consistently identify logistics and C4ISR infrastructure as U.S. strategic centers of gravity suggesting that PLA commanders will almost certainly attempt to target these systems with both electronic countermeasure weapons and network attack and exploitation tools, likely in advance of actual combat to delay U.S. entry or degrade capabilities in a conflict.”

The C4ISR infrastructure referred to in the congressional report is command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Sources report that the giant telecommunications companies Huawei and ZTE would give the PLA such access.

The problem for the U.S. is that the effects of preemptive penetrations may not be readily detectable until after combat has begun.

“Even if circumstantial evidence points to China as the culprit,” the report said, “no policy currently exists to easily determine appropriate response options to a large scale attack on U.S. military or civilian networks in which definitive attribution is lacking. Beijing, understanding this, may seek to exploit this gray area in U.S. policymaking and legal frameworks to create delays in U.S. command decision making.”

The report also detailed the potential risks to the U.S. telecommunications supply chain in which hardware is exposed to innumerable points of possible tampering and must rely on rigorous and often expensive testing to ensure that the semiconductors being delivered are trustworthy and will perform properly.

Such components obtained from China through U.S. defense contractors, however, often are untested, raising the high prospect of compromising U.S. systems and being virtually undetectable as to the origin of the defect.

These developments strongly suggest that no policy exists on this growing problem of electronic backdoor espionage at the hands principally of the Chinese, sources say, even though the U.S. government has been aware of the issue for some time.

In 2013 defense budget legislation, a House Armed Service subcommittee recently introduced language to require a search of all U.S. nuclear weapons arsenals and infrastructure to remove products from such Chinese companies as Huawei and ZTE which similarly is under Chinese PLA influence that can introduce electronic backdoors or code for espionage or even sabotage.

Earlier this year Michael Gilmore, Pentagon director of Operational Test and Evaluation, said that the Defense Department’s ability to halt cyber attacks has declined such as in using backup files and systems, proper audit logging and effective use of anti-virus tools and software, due primarily to budget cutbacks.

Word about Huawei’s capabilities in the remote access of telecommunications systems almost anywhere in the world for purposes of espionage or even electronic sabotage comes on the heels of recent WND revelations that China also has been manufacturing counterfeit components that have made their way into sensitive U.S. weapons systems.

The problem of fake Chinese electronic components, which were installed by defense contractors without prior testing and are operating in U.S. military systems, is far more widespread than originally thought.
 
Fake electronic components from China have been discovered in thermal weapons sights delivered to the U.S. Army, on mission computers for the Missile Defense Agency’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missiles and on military aircraft, including several models of helicopters and he P-8A Poseidon, U.S. Senate investigators revealed.

Suspected fake electronic parts were found in the Forward Looking InfraRed, or FLIR, Systems being used on the Navy’s SH-60-B, which were delivered by Raytheon, which alerted the navy.

Senate investigators tracked some 1,800 cases of suspected counterfeit parts through the supply chain. It found that U.S. defense contractors had purchased many of the critical components from U.S. companies which in turn obtained them from Chinese firms but never subjected them to testing before handing them over to the U.S. military as part of their contract.

U.S. military aircraft affected by counterfeit parts include the SH-60B, AH-64 and CH-46 helicopters, as well as the C-17, C-27J and C-130J cargo aircraft and P-8A Poseidon aircraft.

In one case, the U.S. Air Force had reported that more than 84,000 counterfeit electronic parts had been purchased from Hong Dark which “entered the DOD supply chain and many of these parts have been installed on DOD aircraft,” the Senate report said.

Senate investigators said that these counterfeit parts are driving up defense costs, in addition to compromising safety and national security.

And another report said the issue appears to be connected to “unvetted independent distributors who supply electronic parts for critical military applications.”

How Whistle Blowers Flipped Boehner On Holder


John Boehner 3 SC How Whistle Blowers Flipped Boehner on Holder
Just days ago, House Speaker John Boehner shocked the conservative world by at last granting his long-awaited approval for next week’s contempt of Congress vote against Attorney General Eric Holder. But it wasn’t the thought of doing what’s right for the family of Brian Terry, Jaime Zapata, or others killed in the Regime’s Fast and Furious scheme that prompted the Speaker’s decision.  After all, Mr. Boehner is hardly one to risk a loss of political advantage—or more importantly, anger the national media—just because a few hundred people have been killed by his Democrat friends.

No, the very cautious Congressman Boehner and other Republican leaders at last chose to take a stand because of reports that “…at least one and perhaps two sources within the Justice Department…have approached the Issa committee seeking whistle blower status.”

For weeks, it has been suggested that House and Senate committees investigating Eric Holder’s participation in Operation Fast and Furious were receiving vital information from a leak in the Department of Justice.  An example of said information is the collection of wiretap applications produced by the House Judiciary Committee last week—documents proving that Attorney General Holder and others at the Department had been lying to Congress in claiming no knowledge of ATF tactics in its scheme of smuggling guns to Mexico.

In a letter to Holder, Darrell Issa made it clear, “…the wiretap applications amply demonstrate the immense detail documenting gun walking tactics that should have prompted senior officials in the (DOJ) Criminal Division to shut down the program immediately.”  Yet for the past year, Holder and his DOJ minions had maintained that the Operation was not halted because the Department knew nothing of the ATF’s reckless and illegal tactics. That was a lie, and thanks to the DOJ employee or employees now seeking whistle blower protection, Holder and his colleagues are STUCK with it.

Yesterday, Congressman Issa wrote a second letter to Holder in response to a desire to meet expressed by the Deputy Attorney General, Holder’s second-in-command. Issa makes it clear he’ll stand for no further lies or delays by the DOJ. With the contempt vote already scheduled next week and the Speaker and other House leaders apparently on board, finally persuaded by the information provided by whistle blowers that they hold a winning hand, Issa is at last in position to dictate rather than cajole. “If the Department of Justice submits a serious proposal for how it intends to alter its refusal to produce critical documents subpoenaed by the Committee, I am ready and willing to meet and discuss your proposal.”

But if the DOJ wishes to continue its game of “delay and obfuscate”, the contempt vote will take place. Republicans unwilling to take the Attorney General to task will have to defend their decision to their constituents.

Eric Holder knows he is in a very tough spot. And it took the few remaining honest officials in the Justice Department to put him there. Of course, those very courageous individuals are also responsible for convincing the weak-kneed Speaker of the House to fulfill his obligations to the people of the United States. These DOJ employees may be among the very few heroes of Fast and Furious.
Op-ed:
The economy...Obama's sinking ship
 By: Diane Sori

I’m on the verge of a big time ‘happy dance’ as all the polls now show Mitt Romney pulling ahead of Barack Hussein Obama.  Unless the economy improves, which leading economists do NOT forecast to happen, we are done with the worst president in modern history, maybe the worst president in our nation’s entire history.

As the Democrats start hitting the panic button, Mitt Romney is showing an uncanny ability to stay on message...’it’s all about the economy; it’s all about the economy; it’s all about the economy.’ 

And when it comes to the economy, Barack Hussein Obama’s ship is sinking and sinking fast.

On Obama’s watch, the consumer index is down 30% from pre-2009 levels...that bodes very poorly for Obama.  With 23 million Americans unemployed, underemployed, or simply given up looking for work...that bodes very poorly for Obama.  With a median household income down by $4,300+...that bodes very poorly for Obama.  With most American families losing 40% of their net worth...that bodes very poorly for Obama.  And with the nation’s total debt reaching a record $15.7 trillion...that bodes very poorly for Obama especially since he keeps blaming George W. Bush for running up the deficit tab.  

Hate to tell Obama but under Bush the deficit was $309 billion...under Obama the deficit is $1.31 trillion.

That’s why 54% of Americans have an unfavorable view of Obama’s handling of the economy with only 38% approving.  Personally, I’d like to know just who that 38% is because they need a lesson in economics for sure.

Now add into this gloomy economic mix the fact that the average tuition at a four-year public university increased 15% on Obama’s watch, with increases of 40%+ at universities in Georgia, Arizona and California. And also remember that Congress is up against a July 1st deadline to avert a doubling of interest rates on new federal student loans encompassing 7.4 million people...and that bodes very poorly for Barack Hussein Obama.

Now top the entire mix on Obama’s failing economic policies with the fact that the annual economic growth rate of 3% has now been revised down to a figure of 1.9% in the first quarter of 2012...and that bodes extremely poorly for Obama and should sink his waterlogged ship.

Thankfully, poorly for Barack Hussein Obama means there is a light at the end of the tunnel for America and for ‘We the People.’

That light is starting to shine more brightly as Mitt Romney leads Obama for the first time in battle ground state Wisconsin where Obama’s support has fallen to its lowest level to date.  Before last week’s Wisconsin recall rout by Governor Scott Walker, Obama had 49% of the vote to Romney’s 45%.  Now Mitt Romney has 48% of the vote, with Obama having 44%. 

Wisconsin...we love you!

Adding to the Democrats woes is the newest poll numbers from two key swing states...Iowa shows Mitt Romney with 47% of the vote to Obama's 46% and Florida shows Mitt Romney with 49% of the vote to Obama’s 45% of the vote.

And all these poll shifts are due to the fact that under Barack Hussein Obama the economy in a word ‘sucks.’

Mitt Romney has said the “Government has to be the partner, the friend, the ally, the supporter of enterprise, not the enemy.”  

Under this current administration’s running of our government free enterprise, capitalism, and economic recovery could not have a more in your face enemy than Barack Hussein Obama.

And the economy will surely be his downfall.  

Hurry up November...our country can’t take much more of this man and his economy destroying policies.

Today is FLAG DAY

Today is FLAG DAY, a day when we Americans commemorate the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on June 14, 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day.  In August 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress.
Today, all 50 states stand together united as one under our flag.  Many American heroes have made the ultimate sacrifice defending that flag...let's fly her proudly as we proclaim, 'Long live the United States of America...the land of the free and the home of the brave.'