China’s top anti-espionage authority warns of secret leaks through smart wearable devices
Published: Feb 23, 2024 02:01 PM
Photo: WeChat account of China's Ministry of State Security

Photo: WeChat account of China's Ministry of State Security

China's top anti-espionage authority warned on Friday that various smart wearable devices may become "cyber spies" used by foreign intelligence agencies to carry out espionage activities, posing a threat to national security.

The Ministry of State Security (MSS) said on its official WeChat account on Friday that when smart wearable devices are connected to smartphones via wireless networks or Bluetooth, foreign cyber spies could launch attacks on the devices through the internet, implanting specific Trojan horse programs without the user's knowledge, thereby gaining control over functions such as recording and taking photos to steal secrets.

When personnel carrying devices with implanted Trojan horse programs enter secret-associated locations, the network spies can potentially steal the secrets. Even if Bluetooth and wireless networks are disconnected, Trojan horse programs can automatically activate recording and photographing functions, and the recorded contents are saved in real time. When the device reconnects to the network, the saved confidential information will be transferred.

On the other hand, the MSS then said that some cameras placed in sensitive or classified areas, once utilized by foreign spy intelligence agencies, pose a threat to national security.

Some overseas personnel posing as vendors selling special monitoring cameras, under the guise of installing equipment for fishermen in aquaculture areas for free, have used the means to deploy disguised and modified special "spy cameras" in China's important maritime areas.

These "spy cameras" can conduct comprehensive and uninterrupted monitoring of hydrological and meteorological conditions and sea surface activities in a certain sea area, and transmit the data through underwater cables or satellite signals to overseas servers. By analyzing the collected data, detailed information about the target sea area can be obtained, posing a potential threat to China's military and marine economic activities, according to the MSS.

The ministry added that various data monitoring devices widely used in professional fields such as aviation, aerospace, maritime shipping, hydrology, and meteorology, while effectively meeting the needs of production and scientific research, may also face huge risks of being attacked and exploited by foreign intelligence agencies.

State security agencies have discovered that some foreign intelligence agencies and their agents used free installation of equipment and sharing of data to lure Chinese companies and individuals to use their equipment. Foreign criminals may also make use of their technological advantages to transport monitoring devices with data feedback functions to key areas and vital regions within China.

If these special data monitoring devices are deployed and connected to the internet, they will immediately collect relevant data and transmit it overseas, creating potential security risks for related industries across China.

The MSS reminded that general public and relevant business units must maintain awareness of these risks, and guard against the illegal intentions of foreign intelligence agencies using various electronic information devices to steal sensitive information, so as to jointly safeguard national security.

Individuals need to avoid risks by not clicking on unknown links, not installing unfamiliar software, not using suspicious devices, and regularly scanning and killing viruses on their phones. Especially when entering sensitive areas, phones and smart wearable devices should be put in isolation cabinets to prevent the risk of leakage of confidential information, the MSS added.

The national security authority also urged that relevant enterprises and units should enhance their awareness and fulfill their obligations to safeguard national security. They should comprehensively use various means such as supervision, inspection and risk assessment to improve the level of data security protection, the ability to perceive the data security situation, as well as data security risk monitoring and management. In cases of suspicious circumstances, they should report to authorities in a timely manner.

Global Times