President Obama has hit back at alleged piracy Beijing campaign against U.S. companies by prohibiting government buying Chinese computer technology.
The new rule, which was buried in a spending bill signed this week, comes after a series of hacks back to China to get to some of the largest companies in America.
Only runs until the end of the fiscal year on 30 September, but could pave the way for more extensive and permanent changes in how the U.S. government technology purchases.
“This is a change of direction,” said Stewart Baker, a former senior official of the Department of Homeland Security who now works for the law firm of Steptoe and Johnson in Washington.
“My guess is that we will continue in this direction for a while.
U.S. Mandiant security company in March announced details of what it said was an aggressive campaign of hacking into U.S. companies by Chinese military unit.
Since then, the Treasury secretary, Jacob Lew has used high-level meetings with the authorities in Beijing to press the issue.
Beijing has denied the allegations.
Lawmakers put the provision in the most recent budget resolution, which empowers the government to pay for day to day operations for the remainder of the fiscal year, “Article 156” of the innocuous heading.
Prohibiting trade and Justice departments, NASA and the National Science Foundation for the purchase of hardware “, produced, manufactured or assembly ‘to’ owned, operated or subsidized” any entity of the Republic of China.
Agencies can only purchase technology if, after consultation with the FBI, they determine that there is no risk of “cyberespionage or tampering associated with the acquisition of the system.”
The representative Dutch Ruppersberger, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee of the House, said he supports the restriction and do not think it would be too cumbersome for federal agencies.
The departments of Defense and Energy and are aware of how their networks are built.
“Anything we can do to bring awareness to the fact that we continue to cyberattacked, we continue to lose jobs, and billions of dollars of American money is being stolen Mr. Ruppersberger said yesterday.
He and the chairman of the House Intelligence Mike Rogers, a Republican, released a report late last year urging U.S. companies and government agencies to lose any business with Chinese telecom firms Huawei Technologies and ZTE because of the security risks they pose.
“Every creature, lighthouse or backdoor put into our critical systems could allow catastrophic and devastating domino effect of failures across our networks,” said Mr. Rogers in a statement accompanying the report.
However, a general ban on the technology related to the Chinese government may be easier said than done. Information systems are often a complicated assembly of parts made by various companies worldwide.
And research in which each part is, and if that part is made by a company that may have ties to the Chinese government might be difficult.
Huawei, the third-largest smartphone maker, says it is owned by its employees and rejects the claims that are controlled by the Communist government of China or military.
Depending on how the Obama administration interprets the law, Baker said it could also cause problems for the U.S. with the World Trade Organization.
WTO members are U.S. allies such as Germany and Britain that may depend on the Chinese technology to build computers or phones.
But in the end, Baker says it could make the U.S. government safer and wiser.
“We have to worry about buying equipment companies can not have our best interests at heart,” he said.
ALLEGATIONS AGAINST CHINA
A Chinese secret military unit is believed to be behind a series of hacker attacks on U.S. government and aerospace, communications and energy companies, a report said last month.
U.S. Mandiant security company based in Shanghai identified PLA 61398 Unit as the most likely driving force behind hundreds if not thousands of cyber attacks.
He says an office block housing the unit is linked to the stolen plans of technology, manufacturing processes, the results of clinical trials, pricing, negotiation strategies of documents and other secret data from over 100 companies .
More alarming still, holding the unit, known online as the Crew of comments, has also made inroads into computer networks that control oil pipelines, electricity grids, water plants and other infrastructure key state.
“The nature of work of the Unit 61 398 is considered by China as a state secret,” Mandiant said in a report released in late February.
“However, we believe that fits harmful” Computer Operations Network. ”
“It is time to recognize that the threat is from China and we wanted to do our part to build and equip security professionals to effectively combat this threat,” he said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China dismissed the report as “baseless” and said the government was firmly against piracy.
‘Hacker attacks are transnational and anonymous. Determine its origins are difficult. We do not know how the evidence in this report can be called sustainable, “said spokesman Hong Lei.
“Critique arbitrary elementary data is based on irresponsible, unprofessional and does not help solve the problem.-All voices