China involved in web-based espionage on British economic firms, warns MI5

December 1st, 2007 - 4:49 pm ICT by admin  

London, Dec 1 (ANI): In what is being termed as an unprecedented move, the British Government has directly accused China of involvement in web-based espionage on some vital parts of the countrys economy, including the computer systems of big banks and financial services firms.

British intelligence agency MI5 has sent a confidential letter to 300 chief executives and security chiefs at banks, accountants and legal firms this week, warning them that they were under attack from Chinese state organisations, The Times reported.

The Director-General of MI5, Jonathan Evans, sent the letters a move that could have serious diplomatic consequences and cast a shadow over Prime Minister Gordon Browns first official visit to China as Prime Minister early in the new year.

The daily said that a summary of the MI5 warning was posted on the Centre for the Protection of the National Infrastructure website, which says Evans wrote to business leaders warning them of the electronic espionage attack.

The contents of the letter highlight the following: the Director-Generals concerns about the possible damage to UK business resulting from electronic attack sponsored by Chinese state organisations, and the fact that the attacks are designed to defeat best-practice IT security systems, says the summary.

It adds: The letter acknowledges the strong economic and commercial reasons to do business with China, but the need to ensure management of the risks involved.

It further warns that British companies doing business in China are being targeted by the Chinese Army, which is using the internet to steal confidential commercial information.

Martin Jordan, a principal adviser at the accountants KPMG, who has seen the contents of the letter, said: If the Chinese know that a British firm is trying to buy a company or other assets such as land in China then they are using every means at their disposal to discover details such as exactly how much money the British company is prepared to spend for that asset.

A security expert, who has also seen the letter, was quoted as saying that among the techniques used by Chinese groups were custom Trojans, software designed to hack into the network of a particular firm and feed back confidential data.
However, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy here said that he was unaware of the allegations, and added that the embassy had not received any complaints from the British authorities. (ANI)

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