By Julio Gonzalez, M.D., J.D.
For many, the thought of a hacker attacking American companies conjures up images of a bespectacled, chain smoker sitting in some dark room in a nondescript warehouse figuring out ways to bypass passwords and security blocks. It seems, though, that China bypassing that process altogether.
Bloomberg Businessweek is reporting today that China has been hacking American computer programs, companies, individuals and perhaps governments by implanting tiny microchips into the computer’s hardware, allowing for access into the computer’s brain from the moment it is manufactured.
It’s not a Trojan horse, its a secret door to the castle that only the enemy knows about. It’s dangerous for everyone who uses China for manufacturing computer components — which is about everyone. World opinion will be universal on this issue.
The implantation of hacking facilitating equipment at the time of its production, a process known as seeding, is a significant development in the world of cyberwars. The danger of such activity are monumental as secretly installing these types of components into motherboards designed for security, intelligence, and military applications would be tantamount to gaining access to America’s next steps before they can be brought to fruition.
The Bloomberg Businessweek story tells of an experience by Amazon and Elemental Technologies. In providing its services, Elemental needed specialized servers manufactured for them. The manufacturer was Super Micro Computer, Inc., a company out of San Jose, but whose workforce is mostly Chinese. It appears, according to the report, that China was able to infiltrate Super Micro Computer, Inc. and implant the microchips there.
Although both Amazon and Element are denying the allegations, anonymous FBI and CIA investigators have laid out meticulous details of the ploy and the ensuing investigation. Officially, the CIA and the FBI are refusing to comment, but potentially up to 30 U.S. companies may have been affected.
This development means that foreign entities may have devised a way through which they may directly interfere with American elections, regardless of how isolated the polling devices may be. That is real cause for concern.
If true, then this type of activity will support President Donald Trump’s contention that China is actively involved in cyber-activity against the United States.
A silver lining: With the new United States Mexico Canada Agreement replacing NAFTA, and improvements on trade with Europe, China is fairly isolated in its trade negotiating position with the United States. This development may further strengthen Trump’s already strong hand in negotiating with the Chinese, perhaps gaining an even better deal for America and American workers as world opinion will, for once, be on his side. No one wants the Chinese imbedding hacking hardware in their equipment.
Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopaedic surgeon and lawyer living in Venice, Florida. He is the author of The Federalist Pages and cohost of Right Talk America With Julio and Rod. Dr. Gonzalez is presently serving in the Florida House of Representatives. He can be reached through www.thefederalistpages.com to arrange a lecture or book signing.
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