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NSA's intrusion highlights cyber defense

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-3-24 19:28:02

According to a recent report by The New York Times, a US surveillance agency has breached the networks of Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, to obtain information. Based on the classified documents released by the NSA former contractor Edward Snowden, the NSA used some technological loopholes to pry its way into Huawei's networks, monitoring the communication of the company's top executives.

In this way, the NSA tried to discover any links between Huawei and the Chinese military. What's more, the agency was able to conduct surveillance or even offensive cyber operations against any nations who bought Huawei's equipment.

The US has long considered Huawei as a security threat for fear that the "backdoors" of its products would make the country as a target of cyber attacks. That is why Huawei's business in the US is limited or even blocked. However, the leaked documents have clearly shown that it is the US that threatens others' security, not Huawei.

The US government has repeatedly said that the NSA conducts surveillance is only for legitimate national security purposes, and according to White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden, the US government does not "give intelligence to US companies to enhance their international competitiveness."

Perhaps the spokeswoman has forgotten how the NSA intercepted the communications about a deal between the European aerospace company Airbus and the Saudi Arabian national airline in early 1990s. The NSA helped McDonnell Douglas, now part of Boeing, to get the multi-billion dollar contract instead of Airbus.

Numerous cases like this can be found to reveal the close relationship the US surveillance agency has with the US business giants.

Excuses such as anti-terrorism measures and national security are ringing hollow.

We have every reason to believe that in every contract that Huawei lost because of the intervention of the US government, the information collected by the NSA played a vital role. Huawei's competitors who benefit from the contracts were also the beneficiaries of the NSA's surveillance.

Huawei's experience should become a key impetus for China to make a thorough shift to defend its cyber security. As cyber security becomes a new issue in Sino-US relations. China has to adjust its attitude about it.

The ordinary state of cyber security is both confrontation and cooperation. Sometimes, confrontation might prevail. China can no longer act as a dove which only sticks to collaboration and mutual trust, but ignores improving its own strength to counter cyber competition.

It is time for China to realize the importance and necessity of getting involved in this competition. China needs to build a calm and rational mentality while facing these challenges.

China is in dire need of a complete set of strategies to make sure its cyber security can be protected.

China should learn from the US to establish its own cyber security strategy, in which the goals, risks and means of practice of cyber security must be clarified.

Only in this way can China assemble its optimal resources and use them to their best advantage. The country will take the initiative and stand firm when the US disturbs China in cyber security.

Improving China's capability to defend its cyber security is also critical. Besides technological advancement, Chinese companies must enhance their relationships with the government, which must take the responsibility of protecting the legitimate interests of its companies. Business security and cyber security are not an individual matter, it requires joint efforts.

As of now, Chinese companies still lag behind their competitors in the US in technological terms, but the Chinese government can assume more responsibility and employ other approaches to make sure the benefits of Chinese companies won't be jeopardized.

For instance, the government must severely punish the US companies who seize benefits by taking advantage of the US surveillance projects.

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Liu Zhun based on an interview with Shen Yi, associate professor at the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Fudan University. liuzhun@globaltimes.com.cn
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