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Black Duck Eggs and Other Secrets of Chinese Hacks 220

Posted by kdawson
from the you-no-like dept.
Roberto123 writes "Network World offers some insights into the way China infiltrates US organizations, physically and via computer, to steal information. Security expert Ira Winkler says there are far more serious threats out there than the 'laughable' uproar over China's hack of Google."
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Black Duck Eggs and Other Secrets of Chinese Hacks

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  • Hmmm ... (Score:3, Informative)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @07:11PM (#32259152)
    My local mexican restaurant regularly delivers blackened huevos rancheros. I wonder if they're in on this whole "restaurant espionage" thing, too?
    • Re:Hmmm ... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @07:20PM (#32259218)

      That seems to be all the evidence needed.

      From TFA:

      "I can't get black duck eggs in San Francisco, let alone this little piece of crap town in the middle of nowhere." Stan's conclusion was that the Chinese restaurant was a front for a Chinese espionage operation targeting the Fortune 5 business.

      Sounds like this security consultant is pretty quick to assume that we need more security. I wonder why.

      And it's not just that one restaurant. Check out this menu [wordpress.com], something definitely smells fishy about it to me. No doubt it's a north korean spy base.

      • Re:Hmmm ... (Score:4, Informative)

        by gyrogeerloose (849181) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @08:14PM (#32259594) Journal

        I find his statement that he can't get black duck eggs in San Francisco, which has one of the largest Chinese populations outside of Asia, hard to believe. I can get black duck eggs [emeraldrestaurant.com] here in San Diego, which is a bit of a cultural backwater compared to the Bay Area.

        • Re:Hmmm ... (Score:4, Funny)

          by magarity (164372) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @08:24PM (#32259632)

          I can get black duck eggs here in San Diego
           
          As if San Diego wasn't home to the largest base of the US Navy! Coincidence? I think not! My rates for security consultation are quite reasonable, I assure you.

        • by MrCrassic (994046)
          That might be too obvious. Lots of Chinese restaurants, including the quick take-out ones, have shady back-room business going on. Chinese gift shops in Chinatown most definitely do; several women have told me of how simple it is to get legitimate luxury handbags at a fraction of the price from these places.
          • by Zakabog (603757)

            That might be too obvious. Lots of Chinese restaurants, including the quick take-out ones, have shady back-room business going on. Chinese gift shops in Chinatown most definitely do; several women have told me of how simple it is to get legitimate luxury handbags at a fraction of the price from these places.

            Those are counterfeits made in sweatshops. Far cheaper and easier to obtain than stolen legit handbags but illegal to sell due to trademark infringement.

        • You can also get them in every little asian grocery store around LA (and there are a lot of them!). I have a friend who would visit from wisconsin and load up on them to take back.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sylpherware (1814564)

        Definitely fishy about that menu... IT'S TOO EXPENSIVE FOR A CHINESE RESTAURANT! For $10, (in ANY English-speaking country's currency) that fried rice better be some top-of-the-line rice with corn-fed organic egg cooked to golden perfection!

        Seriously though, this article is interesting in 2 ways. 1st, "black duck eggs" may be a delicacy, but it's not that rare nor it is expensive. The only way that it's not in the SF area would be that it doesn't comply with the food safety code, like a lot of Chinese food.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Americans are more touchy about food safety than most white folks. Teawurst a wonderful german meat spread made from raw pig livers was not available in the USA for many years.

          • It quite common for American restaurants that serve steak and such to refuse to prepare dishes cooked to less than "medium" tenderness.

        • by russotto (537200)

          Anyway, he was saying how all the guys were really plain-looking, and the girls are hot as hell, and very seductive at that too. SO, what you should be looking out for at your work place are: plain-looking Chinese dudes and hot Chinese girls!

          That only applies if they're "seductive". If they laugh haughtily at clumsy nerd advances and date only tall and/or rich guys, they're not spies. But hot Asian chicks apparently interested in Slashdotters are going to be one of two things... recruiters for the Moonies

      • I was looking forward to an interesting article until I read the opening paragraph. /facepalm. This guy is a moron and has nothing of interest to add to the subject.

        • I was looking forward to an interesting article until I read the opening paragraph. /facepalm.

          Really? You should know better anytime you see "posted by kdawson".

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        "I can't get black duck eggs in San Francisco, let alone this little piece of crap town in the middle of nowhere."

        What a fucking liar! I could get black duck eggs in Central Pennsylvania, FFS! If he can't find the in SF, he's not looking.

    • by fishexe (168879)

      My local mexican restaurant regularly delivers blackened huevos rancheros. I wonder if they're in on this whole "restaurant espionage" thing, too?

      But are they duck huevos rancheros? Black regular chicken eggs are nothin'...

  • by flowerp (512865) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @07:14PM (#32259176)

    My wife has no problems buying black eggs of any kind in asia stores in Germany. Oh, and black eggs can be mailed long distance, it's fermented and thereby preserved food.

    And you really can't conclude from the menu of a chinese restaurant what's going or not going on behind the scenes. I call bullshit on this one. No corporate espionage ring would need to use a "safe house" or "safe restaurant" for that matter to drop off secret information or to secretly meet. It's the information age, dummies!

    • I gotta agree. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @07:20PM (#32259214)

      And furthermore:

      Besides continually innovating at hacking computer networks in the U.S. and globally, Chinese interests also hack companies physically by infiltrating them with people who can then be recruited as spies, Winkler said.

      Huh? I can see infiltrating them with spies ... but infiltrating them with people who you will then try to recruit to be a spy?

      Isn't that a bit ... stupid?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MichaelSmith (789609)

        And furthermore:

        Besides continually innovating at hacking computer networks in the U.S. and globally, Chinese interests also hack companies physically by infiltrating them with people who can then be recruited as spies, Winkler said.

        Huh? I can see infiltrating them with spies ... but infiltrating them with people who you will then try to recruit to be a spy?

        Isn't that a bit ... stupid?

        Not if you know you will be able to manipulate the recruits. China has a lot of control over the lives of those peoples relatives back home.

        • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @07:27PM (#32259276)

          Not if you know you will be able to manipulate the recruits. China has a lot of control over the lives of those peoples relatives back home.

          Why even risk the possibility that one of them will NOT take the offer?

          Cut out the middleman and simply send them spies to be hired. Spies who have ALREADY agreed to be spies for you.

          • But that wouldn't afford us the luxury of seeing "POTENTIAL CHINESE SPY" in every single Asian face we encounter.

            Yeah, I went there. Someone had to.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Jawnn (445279)
              Potential Chinese spy. Potential illegal immigrant. They all look the same to us here in Arizona.
            • by Lehk228 (705449)
              not to mention that the spies would not have to be asian. get any random group of 100 tech students, offer to pay off their student loans and get them a new house in exchange for industrial espionage, and you will always get at least one taker.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by spazdor (902907)

                The trick is being certain that none of the other 99 will go to the cops - or worse, to the organization to be spied on.

          • by T Murphy (1054674) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @08:50PM (#32259784) Journal
            A company won't likely hire or retain someone who seems to be a spy. Given new hires will get more attention, if they are all spies there is a fair risk of at least one raising suspicion- depending on how connected all the spies are, this can really cause problems for all of them. If China lets the new hires adjust to being a new employee, then pull them into being a spy, they can just focus on the ones who end up in positions or career paths that are useful for spying, and the spies are comfortable enough with their job they shouldn't be drawing unnecessary attention anyways. Also, college graduates have a lot of choices to work with- if they are allowed to settle down a bit, they won't see nearly as many alternatives to giving in to being a spy, should they not be nationalistic enough to like spying.

            Companies aren't likely to hire senior engineers/programmers/etc. with their only work experience being in China- the best way to get someone into the desired position is to get hired from graduation and work up to the position. May as well let the future spy fit in as a typical bright college student, then deal with the spy recruiting phase between them getting hired and waiting until they've been working long enough to have proper access to the desired information or system.
        • Re:I gotta agree. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by stephanruby (542433) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @07:50PM (#32259442)

          Not if you know you will be able to manipulate the recruits. China has a lot of control over the lives of those peoples relatives back home.

          This assumes that all the Chinese expats even *like* their family back home. I can tell you from personal observation that the more a person stays in the US, the less and less they like their family from back home.

          • Re:I gotta agree. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by spazdor (902907) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @08:29PM (#32259664)

            If the Chinese government is attempting this kind of extortion on a large scale, we have to assume that some of those attempts will be failures, and that some of those failures will be loud.

            As far as I know, no Chinese immigrant has yet come forward with allegations that this happened to them. Which means either it's 100% effective, or else it's not happening.

            • Re:I gotta agree. (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @09:26PM (#32259980)

              If the Chinese government is attempting this kind of extortion on a large scale, we have to assume that some of those attempts will be failures, and that some of those failures will be loud.

              You are right, holding the family at home hostage is just stupid.
              On the other hand - giving them special treatment, like getting the kids into a better school, moving a sick relative up the line for organ transplant, that kind of stuff is easy to do hush-hush.

              And, of course, that's not the only thing they do. They also play on feelings of nationalism. Just because a guy leaves his country of birth for better opportunities doesn't mean he thinks the country is shit, in fact he may even want to go back and if he can contribute to the economic development of the country that may even make it possible for him to go back and get the kind of job that didn't exist when he left.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by sortius_nod (1080919)

            Apart from the, you know, ancestor worship that's part of Chinese culture.

            Your statement is total bullshit and you know it. There is a big emphasis on family within Chinese culture and to say that you just lose it by being in the US for a while is crap. Why do you think that there's such a large Chinese community in the US? Not because they've thrown their culture to the kerb.

            If any threats of family harm come to a Chinese person it will definitely make them easier to coerce.

            • Re:I gotta agree. (Score:4, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @11:26PM (#32260700)

              You're a China hater. You might be right about family being important in Chinese culture, but it's not worship, by any means. You make us sound like non-humans. I have to try not to get angry at your war mentality, but instead put forth my understanding.

              Family is a different concept in Chinese culture, it works like this: In Western culture, Mother may say one thing, and Grandmother may say another thing, but ultimately Mother gets her say.

              In traditional Chinese culture, and I put a strong emphasis on traditional, Grandmother may say one thing, and Mother will go along with it. After all, she's older. Please bear in mind that with the new urbanization in China, this style is shifting as the fast-paced change in urban society makes it harder for older people to remain saavy their entire lives.

              So, we Chinese are people too. Please be nice.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by g4b (956118)
                I read his comment, and could not see the hate you read out of it.

                Part of humanity is religion. Why would be worshipping ancestors be any kind of a non human act? The only civilization not interested in worship would be mostly a robot society in my eyes. Even Atheists worship things. Everybody does. And only if it is their individuality.

                I think, what the person you responded to only got wrong, is where it is worship, and where it is respectful tradition to obey. Dead Ancestors are worshipped (oh, and we got
          • by mgblst (80109)

            Sure, but not liking your family, and not minding if harm came to them are two different things.

            Most people, not matter how much they dislike their families, do not want anyone to harm them. Who knows what the chinese are threatening them with. And don't forget how much the Chinese gov has control over its people.

      • Re:I gotta agree. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by thesaurus (1220706) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @07:42PM (#32259378)
        And this is why we're screwed trying to stop Chinese espionage...our security consultants are frakking morons.
      • by geekoid (135745)

        You get someone a job, and them let them know that for certain information there mother won't be hurt. Suddenly they're spies. That may not even realize that was happening until it's too late.

        However the sentence is poorly worded.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Nikkos (544004)
        That's one of the key differences between Western/Eastern cultures. We're (speaking as a Western-raised individual) an individualistic society while they're a collective society (and no, this is in no relation to political theories) You choose any banner - be it race, religion, or nationality - and any group of people raised in a collective society will have more people willing to work/sacrifice themselves for the cause than a comparable group of the same size of people raised in an individualistic society.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sarkeizen (106737)
          I really don't know what the mainlands are like but all the HK folk I've met would never pass for collectivist but perhaps that's the (great?) thing about various degrees of consumerism and democracy...it inherently undermines collectivism.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sopssa (1498795) *

      Exactly, and could someone please tell me how this

      "Don't you know black duck eggs are a delicacy in China?" Winkler said Stan asked. "I can't get black duck eggs in San Francisco, let alone this little piece of crap town in the middle of nowhere." Stan's conclusion was that the Chinese restaurant was a front for a Chinese espionage operation targeting the Fortune 5 business.

      gives the conclusion that it's a Chinese cyber espionage front? I mean, seriously?

      • I think the conclusion is that if they serve a rare delicacy, then people from the local R&D department will want to go there to eat, particularly on special occasions. The restaurant could be bugged to overhear details which could be used to replicate research, to find potential spies, or to look for blackmail material.

        It's not a completely unreasonable idea, but after looking up the dish in question, it does seem like a big stretch.

        • by Gorobei (127755)

          I think the point is more that most small-town Chinese restaurants in the USA have a completely off-the-shelf menu (hot & sour soup, egg-drop, wanton, etc, General Tso's chcicken, crispy fried beef, etc.) You see unexpected dishes, and wonder if a) these are serious cooks who have set up in the middle of nowhere, or b) this is not a profit-maximizing enterprise.

          Kind of like in New York when you go into a bodega to buy a pick of cigs and notice all the canned food in the store is covered in dust. Obvio

          • That could be the case, and is probably simpler. Living in California, it's not uncommon to see a Chinese restaurant have a menu 90% identical to other nearby venues, but with one or two specialties as well that aren't as easy to find. Those specialties will often trigger people to pick them out for special occasions.

        • I think the conclusion is more likely that the people running the place don't really know how Chinese restaurants in Podunkville USA typically operate. Kind of like a restaurant not located on the Jersey shore serving Zima - there's clearly something sinister afoot.
        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          They are not rare, you can mail them.

          • I know they're not rare. That's why I called it a big stretch after I looked up the details of the eggs.

      • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @08:45PM (#32259758)

        Exactly, and could someone please tell me how this gives the conclusion that it's a Chinese cyber espionage front? I mean, seriously?

        Inside the black eggs were USB drives with google's search algorithms. It's sloppy editing not to include that in the article, but it's even sloppier espionage on the restaurant's part to advertise that fact on the menu.

      • by mgblst (80109)

        I am sure that based on that evidence, it is enough to blow up the place.

        Well, if you are an idiot. This guy is just saying that you learn to pickup on everything around you.

        The fact that they serve a delicacy may mean you start to pay more attention to the place. Maybe you warn your people to be careful what they talk about at restaurants? Maybe you hire a PD to keep an eye on the place? Maybe you don't sit next to the guys in Army uniforms holding big microphones in your direction? Maybe don't take the hi

    • by cgenman (325138)

      Are you saying that all of the Mexican restaurants around Los Angeles aren't just there to steal the secrets of the movie making industry? Do you think Robert Rodriguez could have developed El Mariachi without Hollywood secrets of formulaic plot and prosaic dialog?

      Sure, there is good reason to defend against state-run hacking. And I'm sure a degree of industrial espionage goes on. But does James Bond set up a chip shop wherever he goes? Do US spies die of hunger if they don't eat at McDonalds every day?

    • by openfrog (897716)

      What do you expect in a chronicle series titled "Microsoft Tech"? From the article:

      Winkler, who considers the attention and outrage paid to the reported attack on Google from inside China last year to be "laughable," says Chinese espionage and cyber espionage is far more pervasive than anyone realizes

      Ah yes, I am supposed to take some weird speculations of Sherlockholmesque quality (they serve black duck eggs, THEREFORE this restaurant is a front!) as being of a much more serious nature than the stand Google took in China.

      Ahahahahahahahaha! Thank you for the entertainment!

    • by solevita (967690)

      --- Eat my sig.

      You're one of them!!1eleven

    • by geekoid (135745)

      It's the traceable information age.
      In fact, flash drive are easily passed, and money must be delivered as cash. Otherwise you get caught.

      Otherwise you would need to deliver the information electronically, and trust your contact to show up with cash.

      Trust isn't these people strong suit.

      Please, don't spout off about stuff you haven't been involved in.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Because they could not just paypal you some money for something?
        Paying more than fair market value for a legal good has long been a way to pay for an illegal good or service.

    • No corporate espionage ring would need to use a "safe house" or "safe restaurant" for that matter to drop off secret information or to secretly meet. It's the information age, dummies!

      Right. It's the information age. Most counter espionage measures are going to be in the cloud. Networks will be sniffed. Phone conversations overheard. Routers watched. Traffic monitored. While transfer in the information age is quick, sneakernet still has its advantages. You can know if anybody has looked at or copied your da

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mlts (1038732) *

        The age old slogan of "never underestimate the bandwidth of a van full of backup tapes" holds true today. However, "just" a MicroSD memory card of 32 gigs can hold a LOT of useful information. Said card can be easily put in a dead drop, just like the old fashioned spying using microfilm.

        My worry is that businesses will spend their time protecting (or trying to) protect against remote threats that they won't keep an eye out for the obvious.

    • As one of the commentators put it at the end of the article:

      IMHO, the rest of the article are garbage and show the author's bigotry than actual knowledge. At least, I want to correct the facts about the eggs. "I can't get black duck eggs in San Francisco, let alone this little piece of crap town in the middle of nowhere." You can get the "black duck eggs" in every Chinatown including San Francisco. In fact, most Chinese grocery shops will have them. You just have asked with the right name "Century egg". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Century_egg [wikipedia.org]

      This article serves no purpose other than to spread propped-up fear and hatry and to promote his own security consultancy.

    • by MrCrassic (994046)
      A lot of folks are concluding that the guy is totally off the mark because of his black eggs theory, but aren't many security researchers really paranoid about this kind of stuff? If that's the case, then I think his assumption would be justified, as unrealistic as it might be. (His assumption is even more valid considering the location of the restaurant...)
    • by spinkham (56603)

      Schneier nailed this one recently. Worst case thinking is paralyzing and harmful. It does little but draw attention to the speaker.

      http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2010/05/worst-case_thin.html [schneier.com]

      I don't doubt that espionage is going on, but this article is way light on statistics and proof, and way heavy on FUD.

    • No corporate espionage ring would need to use a "safe house" or "safe restaurant" for that matter to drop off secret information or to secretly meet.

      I think the intent was to have a superb restaurant that would lure the techies in so they could have their conversations recorded.

  • The black egg anecdote was in Ira's 2005 book, 'Spies Among Us', which I do not recommend except for some of the stories like that.
  • This article reads like those doom-crying rants I've seen on truther/birther/tinfoilhat websites. Seriously? The people down at the local Chinese food restaurant are a threat? And you think this because your former Russian spook friend 'Stan' told you so?? Dude, WTH. And don't even get me started about the various source-uncited claims about Chinese student-spies infiltrating our schools 21 Jump Street style. My god...this is sad.
  • The Chinese aren't the only spies in the international game, every country, police force, and big corporation, etc has them. They usually don't kill, torture, etc, just gather and take secret information from one secret vault to another, so it's, erm, somewhat peaceful, really.
    • by MasaMuneCyrus (779918) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @08:59PM (#32259850)

      The author didn't state it elegantly, but he still made the point -- Chinese industrial espionage is very real, is here now, and it is state-sponsored. China views hacking not only as a fast-track to becoming an industrial superpower, but they view it as a method of becoming a military superpower, too. A good part of China's military buildup involves locating and training talented young people, as well as hiring the already established hacker-underground folk for military purposes. They figure (probably correctly) that they are nowhere near capable of competing with the US military on a technological front, but if they can shut down our command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) networks (not coincidentally, this is also why they developed the satellite-killing missile), then they have essentially shut us down, especially for any military response to an attack on Taiwan.

      Here are just a few examples of the many, many already known about cases of Chinese espionage.
      - The infamous Cox Report [house.gov] (regarding the PRC stealing our most advanced nuclear weapon designs)
      - The well-known Google attacks [nytimes.com]
      - A Boeing engineer was sentenced to 15 years for espionage, selling rocket technology [latimes.com] to the PRC
      - The FBI caught an American with very high security clearance and a Taiwanese-American selling classified information [cbsnews.com] about weapon-sales to Taiwan to the PRC.
      - The British MI5 released a report detailing all kinds of Chinese espionage [timesonline.co.uk]. For example, high-profile UK businessmen have been approached by PRC spies with lavish gifts which include USB flash drives infected with trojans to steal information, and in 2008, an aide to Gordon Brown had his Blackberry stolen after a sexy Chinese woman approached him in Beijing -- a classic, almost too classic to be true, Soviet-style tactic. Other diplomats, too, have been sexually blackmailed by the PRC to divulge information.
      - Here is a research paper by Northrop Grumman [uscc.gov] regarding China's cyber-warfare abilities, 88 pages filled with the stuff. Turn to page 67 for a "Timeline of Significant Chinese Related Cyber Events 1999-Present," let alone the details of the rest of the paper which shows the large effort by the PRC to improve their cyber-warfare and espionage abilities.

      Here are some more excerpts:

      MI5 Report [nytimes.com]

      The MI5 report described how China’s computer hacking campaign had attacked British defense, energy, communications and manufacturing companies, as well as public relations companies and international law firms. The document explicitly warned British executives dealing with China against so-called honey trap methods in which it said the Chinese tried to cultivate personal relationships, “often using lavish hospitality and flattery,” either within China or abroad.

      “Chinese intelligence services have also been known to exploit vulnerabilities such as sexual relationships and illegal activities to pressurize individuals to cooperate with them,” it warned. “Hotel rooms in major Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shanghai which have been frequented by foreigners are likely to be bugged. Hotel rooms have been searched while the occupants are out of the room.”

      • by Mantrid42 (972953)

        but if they can shut down our command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) networks (not coincidentally, this is also why they developed the satellite-killing missile), then they have essentially shut us down, especially for any military response to an attack on Taiwan.

        So the Chinese are Cylons?

      • by jandersen (462034) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:35AM (#32261912)

        The author didn't state it elegantly, but he still made the point -- Chinese industrial espionage is very real, is here now, and it is state-sponsored.

        I don't think he - or you - has any point besides the obvious. Do you really imagine that guys like you are the only ones that know about these things? Or that China is the only country that does it?

        There is no need to go looking for enemies in China or Russia - they are big nations, and they have a clear and obvious interest in not upsetting the balance in the world too much; if one of the big nations were to fail, it would hurt every nation in the world, so America, Russia, China etc are going to protect each others' interests and stability, at least against major upsets. Would China benefit from America suddenly being relegated to the bottom? Of course not - what would happen to their exports and the stability of their currency? No, China is America's friend, at least in the same sense that your business partners are your friends.

        The real enemies of America (and China, Russia, ...) are the crackpots who are willing to throw away their own life to hurt you, followed closely by conspiracy theorists, that keep dreaming up sensational "threats", but somehow miss the real ones.

        So, how do you know that you are not a conspiracy theorist? Simple: if you are willing to change your opinion in the light of evidence, then you are not one.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gov_coder (602374)
          China is not trying to 'kill' America. They are simply trying to steal from it. And that potentially amounts to a slow and painful 'death'. That the author advocates being cognizant of these facts is not ignorance or racism, but rather prudence. Like all facts, they must be balanced with others, for a wise perspective to take form; but surely the scale of Chinese espionage is something all of us can see as a significant problem.
  • I RTFA'ed and couldn't wrap my head around the first paragraph. My mom puts black duck eggs into the porridge she makes every other week or so. I wonder if that means I need to check around the house for dead drops or start questioning visitors about their national allegiances.
  • Okay for some slash-support now. I have added a certain editor to my excludes list in my index settings, however, there is no way for my RSS reader to know this as it just uses the standard slashdot feed. My question is, how do I get an RSS feed that excludes certain editors?
  • China simply encourages people to go abroad (they have plenty to spare) and keeps on good terms with them. Then agents just keep in cotanct and, by playing on national pride, ask expats what they know about X. (say a new chemical process or code snippet or whatever) It *almost* doesn't qualify as spying, I understand they are fairly upfront and just say stuff like, "we want to make a better car but we keep having problems with the fuel line, how does the company you work for solve this" or "do you have

  • by Mr. Flibble (12943) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @08:01PM (#32259522) Homepage

    Can't get black duck eggs?

    While I have not looked in San Francisco, I frequently find black duck eggs in packs of six in "Superstore" in Canada. I have been buying them for years to put in my rice porrige (Jook) that I like to make.

    I fail to see how a product available at every Superstore I have been to is hard to find in San Francisco, I mean, SF has the largest Chinatown in North America does it not?

    • Clearly this proves that the spy was not the Chinese restaurant owners, but the man claiming it was odd that they had black duck eggs!!
  • Reading TFA has been the best laugh I have had all morning!

  • What the duck? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by XiaoMing (1574363) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @08:43PM (#32259736)

    I'm not sure if the author of the article is actually a moron who can't shop and also a complete racist, or smart enough to realize his article would have no readers without putting in a culturally ignorant title, but I'd like to know where the hell he has been shopping in SF.

    First of all, you can get black duck eggs damn near everywhere. I can get them in Fremont, Sunnyvale, or Cupertino, California at a variety of locations (Lions, 99Ranch, etc.), and I'm PRETTY sure you'd be able to find it in one of the biggest Chinatowns this country has to offer.
    Hell I live in Madison, Wisconsin now and I'm 10 minutes (walking distance) away from a run down Chinese grocery outlet the size of a 7-11 that sells black duck eggs, and two out of the three crappy fast-food only takeout restaurants here serve porridge with black duck eggs.

    To use decades old "cultural insight" that black duck eggs are a "Chinese Delicacy" without realizing that within the last two decades foods and goods Chinese people have only heard about in stories have become commonplace items not only in China, but also internationally as exports, is just pathetic.

    But I guess there really was no other way to emphasize the ridiculously commonplace adage--that the human link is the weakest in security--without resorting to making ridiculous and dated cultural assumptions.

    It's alright that he's not too good with cultures and people I guess. I mean, he's Russian after all, they're only good at math and physics.

  • by siddesu (698447) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @08:49PM (#32259780)
    It is very heartwarming to see the stories I grew up with behind the Iron curtain about CIA agents coming in to ruin our happy socialist lives being rehashed on what used to be the "free" side of the said curtain :)
  • by MrCrassic (994046) <deprecated@em a . il> on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @09:02PM (#32259864) Journal
    Some people spend so much time concentrating on the technical brilliance involved in computer hacking, they tend to forget that most of the pertinent and crippling attacks are byproducts of simple social engineering and breaches in trust.

    If you work in, say, any financial institution, pay attention to the way your co-workers talk and behave.
  • OK I RTFA and... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by djdevon3 (947872)
    This guy is a quack. The entire article sounds like the ramblings of a paranoid schizophrenic that has a bit of technical knowledge. He thought some random Chinese restaurant he had lunch in was actually a front for corporate espionage simply because they had "black duck eggs" on the menu. Seriously. That was his one and only reason. He goes on to accuse the Chinese of planting spies in oil companies and Google specifically. I hope he was actually quoted out of context or we've got some serious mental
  • Couldn't the restaurant... buy regular duck eggs and ferment them?

    A century egg can apparently be made quickly by soaking the egg in salt and sodium hydroxide for a week or two. Or you could actually bury it in alkaline soil... believe it or not, you don't actually have to be in China to accomplish this.

    I propose we round up any dirty chinamen buying drain cleaner at the grocery store on the grounds that they must be no good commie spies!

  • "Don't you know black duck eggs are a delicacy in China?" Winkler said Stan asked. "I can't get black duck eggs in San Francisco, let alone this little piece of crap town in the middle of nowhere." Stan's conclusion was that the Chinese restaurant was a front for a Chinese espionage operation targeting the Fortune 5 business.

    why? why did he conclude that?

  • by FoolishOwl (1698506) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @10:57PM (#32260530) Journal

    The article basically lays out this argument:

    1. There's a Chinese restaurant in the midwest somewhere that, shockingly, serves Chinese food.
    2. Graduate students from China have been observed speaking Chinese on the telephone, and at least sometimes, they were speaking to the Chinese consulate -- which is suspicious, since consulates provide services to a nation's citizens living abroad.
    3. Therefore, there is a massive Chinese campaign of computer espionage, which is so effective that we can't actually detect anything happening.

    I read the article, expecting at least some cursory information about system cracking techniques that have been detected. Instead, there's just this vapid paranoia that Chinese people may be up to something. It smacks of racism.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Inda (580031)
      The racist FUD from kdawson has been growing for some time.

      Why? Why does he, and seemingly the whole of the USA population, feel the need to always have an enemy?

      Is is a culture thing? An edjucation thing?

      I can't get my head around it.
  • China sends spies to work in IT departments of all major political parties. It is a great way to steal complete lists of contributors/donors/supporters and, thereby, have complete knowledge of who the major movers and shakers are. Keep your eyes and ears peeled and be very, very careful.
  • Governments seem to need something to do. So why not let them sneak about trying to steal each others secrets? On the other hand we couldn't even get New Orleans rebuilt and now it stands to be an oil rich city if the wind shifts a bit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @04:09AM (#32262114)
    I look at all this smug poo-pooing of the possibility of Chinese espionage and have to shake my head. Please don't be so smug. I'm a longterm contractor in Silicon Valley and I know about a number of genuine espionage situations. There was a Chinese-backed semiconductor company here a decade ago, you'd know the name. They made chips in volume for PCs and laptops. As a contractor I discovered they had in the heart of their popular products a DSP engine designed by TI which they'd pirated. They'd had help taking it from TI and it was clear there was at least one plant within TI by the Chinese. Their government shared useful information and ran a lot of recruited engineers inside companies here. I remember various newspaper stories over the years about engineers caught redhanded taking designs out of the country.

    The same company had financial help building and running a motel nearby in Fremont where some of their customers stayed, but it also many other business people meeting with various companies. The motel was bugged, I was told by a close Chinese-American friend in the semi company. The semi firm got the customer private conversations and I think phone conversations.

    In another case, an Israeli telecom chip company was designing software that is used in many datacom systems through which a LOT of US packets flow. I heard that there were backdoors in the hardware/software systems they sold to major communications operators. Some of us non-Israelis knew that Mossad ran some of the people in the company, but what could we do about it? The company got financial backing from Israeli intelligence but it would have been hard to prove since it was run through the Cayman Islands.

    A lot of designs and technology have been pirated by Chinese, Taiwanese, and other governments. It's somewhat common knowledge here. And there are some very worrisome backdoors, for example the known sly replications of chips used in routers but with additional logic for remote access. The US military is well aware of this and there have been published stories about it. Just because the black egg story has credibility issues doesn't mean others aren't more solid.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by RMH101 (636144)
      The Israeli Narus products have long been suspected of being state-sponsored. Given the number of deep packet inspection devices that come out Israeli companies, designed to monitor backbones, this isn't surprising.

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