The Government has accused China of carrying out an internet spying campaign against vital parts of the economy, it has been reported. The head of the MI5 sent a letter to more than 300 senior executives at banks, accountants and legal firms earlier this week warning them of a web-based attack from Chinese state organisations.
The letter warns that British firms doing business in China are being targeted by the Chinese army, which is using the internet to steal confidential information to benefit Chinese companies. It is believed to be the first time the Government has directly accused China of involvement in such tactics and could cast a shadow on Gordon Brown's visit to the country in the new year.
A summary of the letter, signed by Jonathan Evans, the director-general of MI5, was posted earlier this week on the website of the Centre of the Protection of the National Infrastructure, an organisation charged with protecting the country's computer systems. It says: "The contents of the letter highlight the following: the director-general's concerns about the possible damage to UK business resulting from electronic attack sponsored by Chinese state organisations, and the fact that the attacks are designed to defeat best practice IT security systems."
The summary, which can only be seen by certain companies such as water, electricity and telecoms firms, adds: "The letter acknowledges the strong economic and commercial reasons to do business with China, but the need to ensure management of the risks involved."
It is suspected that Chinese organisations may have created special software designed to hack into the network of a company and feed back confidential information. Last night, no one from the Chinese embassy in London was available for comment.
I have a sneaking suspicion that China's leadership is composed of closet Anglophiles with all these accusations of Chinese spying on the UK flying around. Does Comrade Hu warble Gilbert & Sullivan tunes in the shower? Or, does Comrade Wen have the complete DVD collection of Wallace and Gromit shorts? Remember, too, that former Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai's son attends the exclusive private school Harrow. Hot on the heels of an accusation that China is using international students here in the UK as spies for the Communist Party comes yet another accusation that the Chinese are using the Internet to spy on British firms. MI5 chief Jonathan Evans has sounded the alarm. According to the Daily Telegraph article below, attacks traced to Chinese state organizations have occurred targeting British firms doing business in the Middle Kingdom, particularly those involved in physical and telecommunications infrastructure. Somehow, I think Brits are chuffed by all the attention Chinese spooks (or is that would-be spooks?) are paying to Blighty. The Empire may be long gone, but its "intellectual capital" lives on. There will always be an England...to spy on: