Chinese Authorities Order Physical Checks Of Government Computers

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Chinese engineers will begin inspecting computer hardware used in government offices to ensure it can keep sensitive data safe

Chinese engineers will begin inspecting computer hardware used in government offices to ensure it can keep sensitive data safe, reports the state-owned Xinhua news agency.

The exact reasons for this initiative are not clear, but it could be seen as a response to the recently published images of the US intelligence agents tampering with Cisco networking gear shortly before it was due to be exported out of the country.

Earlier this week, US authorities brought charges against five Chinese hackers who they say were employed by the military to steal intellectual property from US businesses. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called the allegations “ridiculous”, and warned they would “damage Sino-US cooperation and mutual trust”.

Fighting talk

China’s State Council Information Office accused foreign agencies of taking advantage “of technological monopolies to collect sensitive data on a large scale” and regular inspections are meant to prevent this.

Kirill__MAccording to Xinhua, the checks will apply to computer equipment that’s important to the national security and public interest, although it didn’t name specific government departments.

Since 2011, government computers in China are already inspected for traces of unlicensed software, as part of the crackdown on intellectual property infringement.

The pictures of the alleged NSA agents adding components to the Cisco routers and servers were published by Glen Greenwald, the journalist who worked closely with Edward Snowden, in his book No Place To Hide.

This latest episode shows the rapidly deteriorating relationship between two countries on the basis of digital issues.

The Chinese government has recently banned installation of Windows 8 on any new government computers, citing security concerns and lack of official support for older versions of the OS – something that could cause serious losses for Microsoft.

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