Sunday, September 09, 2007

Philippine security and Chinese ZTE Broadband

There are many compelling reasons why the ZTE Broadband project should be scrapped; today's Manila Times editorial outlines most of them. But what is never mentioned is that the project, which will build the Philippine backbone for multi-media interconnectivity among government offices, might endanger Philippine national security by potentially allowing China unfettered access to government information.

China is indeed interested in information. Recently, there were reports that the government and military networks of Germany, Britain, and the United States sustained cyber attacks by Chinese hackers testing information technology defenses. Now, there's this news saying that France sustained similar cyber attacks from China. The attacks targeted the French defense ministry's public Internet site.

What was the purpose of such attacks? Critics say motives for such hacking include stealing of secrets or confidential technology, probing for system weaknesses and placing hidden viruses that could be activated in a conflict.

So far, no official complaint has been made to China for those attacks. The governments concerned are only saying the the attacks can be traced back to China, but not necessarily to the People's Liberation Army.

US State Department officials believe that that every telecommunications company in China is linked to the Ministry of Post and Communications and/or the military. There is, therefore, a distinct possibility that China could be bugging our proposed ZTE broadband network, wiring our government offices directly to Chinese intelligence. The ZTE broadband scandal may not solely be about who got how much bribes. Perhaps the stratospheric bribe offers from ZTE could be explained by the fact that China has political and strategic interests in the completion of the project.


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