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China Has Pervasive Access to 80% of the World's Telecoms, Report Says

A report from World News Daily (WND), written by a former analyst for the Pentagon and using unnamed sources, says that the Chinese government has a foothold in about 80% of the world’s telecommunications infrastructure.

The story from WND – if it can be believed – says that according to telecommunications experts (who remain unknown) the “Chinese government has “pervasive access” to some 80 percent of the world’s communications, giving it the ability to undertake remote industrial espionage and even sabotage...The Chinese government and its People’s Liberation Army are acquiring the access through two Chinese companies, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd and ZTE Corporation.”

Taken at face value, the story is speculative. However, the fact that WND’s author cites the two companies often targeted by the government when discussing state-sponsored espionage isn’t surprising. We’ve spoken of them before here on SecurityWeek, such as when Huawei was blocked from bidding on a broadband contract in Australia due to its government ties; or when ZTE Corp. shipped phones with a backdoor.

It seems that whenever someone starts hammering on the FUD gong about China and their “backdoor” into the U.S. via critical infrastructure, these two companies will earn an honorable mention.

According to WND’s source, “any U.S. company that deals with foreign countries that have incorporated Huawei and ZTE technology into their national telecom systems is in serious jeopardy of industrial espionage without knowing it. The problem is especially serious, he said, in this period of globalization in which companies deal routinely on a daily basis in the exchange of sensitive, proprietary information, potentially jeopardizing any protection of intellectual properties.”

Meanwhile, while lawmakers in the U.S. worry about China, the Department of Justice has made it clear they want to place backdoors onto social media, VoIP channels, and Email, for our own protection of course - and to help with crime fighting.  

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.