Britain warns of Chinese espionage through mobile phones… or the refrigerator!

Britain warns of Chinese espionage through mobile phones… or the refrigerator!
Britain warns of Chinese espionage through mobile phones… or the refrigerator!
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British ministers have warned that China has the ability to spy on millions of people in Britain through a “weapon” of microchips embedded in cars, appliances and even light bulbs, according to a report in the Telegraph newspaper.

The technology, described by the newspaper as a “Trojan horse”, poses a “widespread” threat to British national security, according to a report sent to the government by a former diplomat who advised parliament on Beijing.

The units collect data, then transmit it over a 5G network, which gives China the opportunity to monitor the movements of intelligence targets, including people, weapons and supplies, and the use of devices in industrial espionage. Millions of them are already in use in the UK, according to the report published Monday by the Washington-based consulting firm OODA.

According to the report, the potential threat to national security outweighs the threat from Chinese-made components in mobile phone towers, which has led to a government ban on Huawei products used in mobile infrastructure.

We have not yet paid attention to this threat

The report said ministers had completely failed to recognize the threat posed by the “pervasive presence” of the units, known as the Internet of Things, a concern echoed by senior MPs. Ministers are calling for urgent action to ban Chinese-made cellular IoT from goods sold in Britain before it is too late.

“We haven’t noticed this threat yet,” said Charles Barton, author of the report. China has spotted an opportunity to dominate this market, and if it does, it can collect an enormous amount of data, as well as make foreign countries dependent on it.”

Barton spent his 22-year career working in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, advising the Foreign Office and the European Union on China affairs, as well as being the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee’s Special Adviser on China, according to the newspaper.

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and the Internet of Things, small units used in everything from smart refrigerators to advanced weapon systems to monitor usage and transmit data back to the owner, often to the manufacturer using 5G.

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Earlier this month, it emerged that the security services had dismantled ministerial vehicles, finding at least one device hidden inside another component. There have been concerns that China has the ability to monitor the movements of everyone from the prime minister down using those units. The report also warned that the problem goes beyond ministerial cars.

Three Chinese companies (Quectel), (Fibocom) and (China Mobile) already own 54 percent of the global market in devices, and 75 percent in connectivity. Like all Chinese companies, it must hand over data to the Chinese government if asked to do so, which means the Chinese Communist Party can access as many devices as it likes, according to the report. The three Chinese firms’ customers include computing firms Dell, Lenovo, HP, Intel, automaker Tesla and card payments company Sumup.

Huge spy potential

Among the devices that contain the units are: laptops, voice-controlled smart speakers, smart watches, smart energy meters, refrigerators, light bulbs, and other app-controlled devices, police body-worn cameras, and doorbell cameras security cameras, bank card payment machines, cars and even hot tubs, according to the report.

The report warned that the potential for espionage is enormous. In addition to artificial intelligence and machine learning to process huge amounts of data, the report indicated that China could, for example, monitor the movements of US arms sales in order to know if it was selling weapons to Taiwan. It can also determine the identities and addresses of royal and diplomatic protection officers, and then monitor their vehicles during pre-security sweeps to determine where ministers will visit. The Chinese could also monitor the movements of targets via bank card payment terminals, and even know who they were meeting with and when.

The report also indicated that data collected from the cellular Internet of Things could be used to identify potential sources of intelligence, by identifying who handles sensitive information, and then find ways to bribe or blackmail them to spy for China.

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