The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

Chi­nese telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment gi­ant Huawei Tech­nolo­gies sought to gain ac­cess to Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency com­puter net­works this year in a failed cy­beres­pi­onage at­tack, U.S. of­fi­cials said.

The company, which the U.S. gov­ern­ment has linked to China’s mil­i­tary, sought to pen­e­trate NSA net­works through a U.S. de­fense con­trac­tor, of­fi­cials fa­mil­iar with in­tel­li­gence re­ports said of the at­tempted cy­ber­at­tack.

The at­tempted net­work pen­e­tra­tion was dis­cussed in mid-Au­gust dur­ing a meet­ing of an in­tera­gency se­cu­rity group called G-FIRST, for Gov­ern­ment Fo­rum of In­ci­dent Re­sponse and Se­cu­rity Teams.

The iden­tity of the de­fense con­trac­tor could not be learned.

A Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity of­fi­cial de­clined to com­ment, cit­ing a pol­icy of not dis­cussing de­fense con­trac­tor is­sues. He re­ferred ques­tions to the Pen­tagon. The Home­land Se­cu­rity Depart­ment co­or­di­nates the G-FIRST group.

NSA spokesman Mike Hal­big said: “We have noth­ing for you on this al­le­ga­tion.”

“While Huawei is chal­lenged to re­spond to The Wash­ing­ton Times’ vague in­quiry, the sug­ges­tion that a glob­ally-proven and trusted $40 bil­lion vender of com­mer­cial telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions gear would risk its very ex­is­tence by at­tempt­ing, in some un­spec­i­fied fash­ion, to some­how ‘ac­cess’ a gov­ern­ment net­work through some uniden­ti­fied third party, would seem noth­ing short of ab­surd,” Huawei spokesman Bill Plum­mer told Inside the Ring in a state­ment.

The Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency is the gov­ern­ment’s premier cy­ber­war­fare and cy­ber­in­tel­li­gence-gath­er­ing agency, and an­a­lysts say it is one of the high­est pri­or­ity tar­gets for China’s ag­gres­sive cy­beres­pi­onage ef­forts.

The Pen­tagon’s an­nual re­port to Congress on the Chi­nese mil­i­tary stated in 2010 that Huawei and two other Chi­nese telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies “main­tain close ties to the [Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army] and col­lab­o­rate on R&D.”

The House Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence warned in a 2012 re­port that the U.S. gov­ern­ment and pri­vate U.S. com­pa­nies should not use Huawei equip­ment be­cause of cy­beres­pi­onage con­cerns.

Dis­clo­sure of the Huawei cy­ber­pen­e­tra­tion at­tempt fol­lows the re­lease of NSA doc­u­ments leaked by rene­gade con­trac­tor Ed­ward Snow­den re­veal­ing that the agency con­ducted cy­beres­pi­onage op­er­a­tions against Huawei.

Brief­ing slides la­beled “top-se­cret” and made pub­lic in March showed that the NSA has been able to ex­ploit weak­nesses in Huawei com­puter equip­ment to spy on so-called hard-tar­get coun­tries, in­clud­ing China, Pak­istan and Iran.

“Many of our tar­gets com­mu­ni­cate over Huawei pro­duced prod­ucts. We want to make sure that we know how to ex­ploit th­ese prod­ucts — we also want to en­sure that we re­tain ac­cess to th­ese com­mu­ni­ca­tion lines, etc.,” one NSA slide states.

The slide also noted that Huawei’s wide­spread in­fra­struc­ture “will pro­vide the PRC with [sig­nals in­tel­li­gence] ca­pa­bil­i­ties and en­able them to per­form de­nial of ser­vice type at­tacks.”

U.S. of­fi­cials also said the Com­merce Depart­ment is in­ves­ti­gat­ing ac­cu­sa­tions that Huawei pro­vided U.S.ori­gin modems, routers and other net­work equip­ment to Cuba in vi­o­la­tion of U.S. sanc­tions on the com­mu­nist-ruled is­land state. and other se­cu­rity-re­lated ex­changes with China a high pri­or­ity and a cen­ter­piece of Pen­tagon for­eign ac­tiv­i­ties.

But a forth­com­ing re­port by the con­gres­sional U.S.China Eco­nomic and Se­cu­rity Com­mis­sion re­veals that se­cu­rity re­la­tions be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Beijing have de­te­ri­o­rated amid dan­ger­ous Chi­nese en­coun­ters at sea and air with U.S. ships and surveil­lance air­craft.

“With a few ex­cep­tions, the U.S.-China se­cu­rity re­la­tion­ship de­te­ri­o­rated in 2014,” the late draft of the an­nual com­mis­sion re­port states. “The rhetoric of a ‘new type of ma­jor-coun­try re­la­tion­ship’ em­braced by both coun­tries in 2013, has not had a warm­ing ef­fect on bi­lat­eral ties and mu­tual sus­pi­cion and dis­trust per­sist.”

The prob­lem is both coun­tries’ con­flict­ing vi­sions for Asia. While the United States seeks a sta­ble and pros­per­ous re­gion, China wants to push out the United States and set up a “se­cu­rity ar­chi­tec­ture” led by China with the United States play­ing a limited role.

Specif­i­cally, the re­port linked de­clin­ing ties to China’s “desta­bi­liz­ing, uni­lat­eral, and co­er­cive ac­tions in the South and East China Seas, and China’s will­ing­ness to en­gage the United States in con­fronta­tional and dan­ger­ous air and mar­itime en­coun­ters.”

Those en­coun­ters in­cluded the near col­li­sion in the South China Sea in De­cem­ber of a Chi­nese am­phibi­ous

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