back to article One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work

The Chinese operatives behind two major advanced persistent threat (APT) groups have fully resumed their activities despite being exposed publically last year, in a sign that diplomatic efforts by the US aren’t working, according to Mandiant. The FireEye-owned company said in its M-Trends report that over the past year it has …

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State Sponsored.

Just like the NSA and GCHQ

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Yeah, but..

The NSA and the GCHQ are on our side.

It's a major concern that almost all cell phones are talking over equipment made by state owned company Huawei.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Acme Fixer

ROFL

You think the NSA and the GCHQ are on "our" side, how quaint.

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Re: Yeah, but..

Our side? Are they?

If you are in the us or uk, which government is more likely to limit your freedom?

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Re: Yeah, but..

> If you are in the us or uk, which government is more likely to limit your freedom?

That's a red herring; the discussion is about electronic surveillance.

If you disagree, name one person who's been arrested because of NSA, and who was not an actual spy or an actual terrorist.

Meanwhile, the Chinese state-sponsored hacker's job are to a) steal technology and corporate secrets and b) expose Chinese human rights activists for persecution.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yeah, but..

Interesting warped point of view..

If you disagree, name one person who's been arrested because of NSA, and who was not an actual spy or an actual terrorist.

Cute. You know full well that the source of information is obscured when used so that capabilities are not disclosed (a bit like reducing the apparent quality of spy satellite imaging during joint force operations to hide the true capacity of the sensors).

Meanwhile, the Chinese state-sponsored hacker's job are to a) steal technology and corporate secrets and b) expose Chinese human rights activists for persecution.

You seem to labour under the illusion that US use of what it acquires via its espionage is entirely benign. Maybe you want to go over the Snowden material again..

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Silver badge

Re: Yeah, but..

It's in the equivalent US and UK agencies' remit to do exactly the same - to promote their nation's interests (both commercial and non-commercial). This covers industrial, commercial, political and military espionage and this has been the case long before the Internet became so prevalent.

As I understand it, it's the normal political "please don't do it" kind of espionage slap down where both parties (privately) know damn well that it is happening, that it will continue to happen and neither really want to escalate it any further. This tends to result in token grudging actions but nothing fundamental and in general everything will carry on as before. When it escalates further, sometimes diplomats are expelled as well, usually to be replaced by somebody just the same but with Internet espionage even this is less relevant and is just a token protest measure.

Nations also have internal agencies that spy on their own citizens or, more accurately, anybody within their borders. This is for various reasons such as tracking extremists, criminals activities (organised crime groups and lesser crime elements), counter-espionage (you need to know who could leak information or who is) as well as more benign political analysis where the reaction of the populace can be measured and reported on.

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Re: Yeah, but..

> Cute. You know full well that the source of information is obscured

Yeah, because US state secrets never leak. Isn't it odd that we know about water boarding, hacking of chinese routers, abducting people for extraordinary rendition, and spying on the German chancellor, but have never heard of a single case where NSA spying has led to an arrest of someone who's not a terrorist or spy?

> You seem to labour under the illusion that US use of what it acquires via its espionage is entirely benign.

No, I pointed out that Chinese spying ISN'T benign.

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Re: Yeah, but..

> name one person who's been arrested because of NSA, and who was not an actual spy or an actual terrorist.

"...the NSA shares information with a division of the Drug Enforcement Administration called the Special Operations Division (SOD). The DEA uses the information in drug investigations. But it also gives NSA data out to other agencies – in particular, the Internal Revenue Service, which, as you might imagine, is always looking for information on tax cheats." --> http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennifergranick/2013/08/14/nsa-dea-irs-lie-about-fact-that-americans-are-routinely-spied-on-by-our-government-time-for-a-special-prosecutor-2/

"We already know the NSA passes data to the DEA and IRS with instructions to lie about its origins in court—"parallel construction" is the term being used." --> http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/10/why-the-nsas-defense-of-mass-data-collection-makes-no-sense/280715/

"... shows how the NSA had a plan to use the porn surfing habits of certain people they didn't like to discredit them. [...] It's important to note here that the "targets" in this case are not US persons, and they all do appear to dislike the US, and some appear to have advocated for jihad against the US. However, as the report notes, most of them are not terrorists or even connected to any terrorist organization. They're just activists and advocates who have spoken out criticizing the US." --> http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20131127/00243625384/nsa-spied-porn-habits-radicalizers-planned-to-use-details-to-embarrass-them.shtml

Makes you wonder, does the NSA go after all tax dodgers they find or just the ones they don't like?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yeah, but..

> If you disagree, name one person who's been arrested because of NSA, and who was not an actual spy or an actual terrorist.

Name one person who's been arrested because of the NSA's indiscriminate dragnet that is an actual spy or terrorist.

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Someday...

The virtual world is going to catch up with the real world. there needs to be a supreme agency to monitor and control the Internet access of every country. If this 'advanced persistent threat' continues to be a problem, CLICK! No more internet access. If the country's providers are unwilling to take care of the problem, then CLICK! They lose Internet access too. That shouldn't be that big a problem because China right now does not allow their users much internet access. More than a billion people, and the truth is hidden from them behind the Great Firewall.

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Re: Someday...

In case you haven't heard the song, someday never comes.

Besides, we've tried building "supreme" agencies before, and shit keeps happening.

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Big Brother

There's no diplomacy like American diplomacy

[D]iplomatic efforts by the US (...)

You mean, like trying to plant bugs in equipments manufactured by Chinese companies?

Yeah, that should have totally got through the notion that America® wants nothing more than to live in harmony with all peoples of the world. No idea why those Chinos can't let go of their dirty tricks and play nice, just like our Yankee friends!

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Anonymous Coward

what's good for goose is good for gander

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Anonymous Coward

In lieu of our own activities around the world, I can imagine how insulting and farcical the idea of "Western Diplomacy" may sound to them. Does anyone actually take these statements seriously any more. Just the usual lip service and role play.

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This kind of argument really pisses me off. You MAY have someone reading your emails and recording who you phone, and you actually, really, think this means that the West is as bad as regimes which lock or kill up people for non-violently disagreeing with the government or exposing corruption.

It really vexes me how spoiled Westerners are, and how utterly ignorant they are about what oppression actually is.

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Anonymous Coward

This kind of argument really pisses me off. You MAY have someone reading your emails and recording who you phone, and you actually, really, think this means that the West is as bad as regimes which lock or kill up people for non-violently disagreeing with the government or exposing corruption.

Ah, never heard of Guantanamo Bay then? Or, umm, let me see, killing people on the other side of the planet from the comfort of your seat with drones?

This is EXACTLY the problem: the whole white knight pretence, whilst at the same time doing everything possible to avoid scrutiny by the electorate of what's being done in their name "for their own good". When you start avoiding law, or bypassing controls of the state, you start edging to exactly the sort of situation and model of governance the US is so keen to point out as evil. Gitmo is in this context a classic, as well as continuously extending the laws that were brought in under the excuse of it being an "emergency" so there would not be that much control.

If you allow yourself to be distracted by whoever the US government points at you're collaborating with the bad things they get up to and become part of the problem, not the solution.

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> Ah, never heard of Guantanamo Bay then?

Yes, I have. Tell me, what would you have to do to get locked up there? Would it be sufficient to, say, insult Obama here? How about in a full-page article in New York Times? What if you bought the New York Times, renamed it "Obummer Stinks" and posted insults to Obama every day?

What do you think would happen in Russia, Iran or China?

> killing people on the other side of the planet from the comfort of your seat with drones?

Yeah, the US is harsh on its foreign enemies. But here's the thing: what would you have to do to get killed by a drone?

> This is EXACTLY the problem: the whole white knight pretence

Your argument boils down to "the West isn't perfect, and therefore it's as bad or worse as oppressive dictatorships like China, Iran, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Belarus and Russia". That's moronic.

> Gitmo is in this context a classic, as well as continuously extending the laws that were brought in under the excuse of it being an "emergency" so there would not be that much control.

Yeah, I agree. Obama has done a lot to roll back the excesses of the Bush era, from outlawing torture to closing the secret black CIA prisons, but not enough. I constantly argue that the West needs to start believing in it's own ideals of freedom, equality and democracy. But fact of the matter is that Gitmo is still open BECAUSE the USA is a democracy: Obama tried to close it, but was stopped by congress. And the fact also is that if you want Gitmo closed, NSA disbanded, drones outlawed or whatever, you are free to argue your case and there is a political way to achieve those goals.

You are not free to argue in favor of human rights in China, and there is no political way to do so.

At best the concept that the West is equally bad as the oppressive dictatorships it criticizes is disingenious or ignorant, at worst it's outright support of authoritarianism.

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Anonymous Coward

When a drone takes out some bomber on his way to meet and greet or blow someone up I have often heard the report. Generally on the TV news or on many web sites.

I have also seen reports when things go wrong sorry if you have missed out.

I have also seen the results when the drones do not get there in time and those lovely friendly helpful 'freedom fighters' blow up another load of women and children.

I see that there is now tacit acceptance that much of the insurgent bombing has less to do with the 'psychopaths for the devil' alias the Taliban and a lot to do with local and tribal rivalries.

Live happily friends knowing that only the other side have the right to snoop and steal, when will Tzar Putin join your happy party of free data thieves?

(I always thought that a poo-tin was some prisoners used to use over night when other facilities were lacking.)

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The fact is that online spying works exactly like offline spying: it's a game played by all nations. Part of the way the game works is that if you discover another country's spies you quick up a royal stink and act indignant. It's the way it's always been. The Americans will carry on and the Chinese will carry out, both kicking up the occasional fuss. It's a bit silly to get all anti-Western about it.

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Anonymous Coward

The point is not being anti-Western as much as wanting the West (whatever that means, exactly) really building its own society(ies) according to the principles it so fiercely pretends to endorse. From inside, it seems obvious, as people are aware of their own society's internal struggle, and the possibility there still is to vote for change. From outside, where the West presents itself as a homogenous entity, it looks like a case of severe personality disorder. People in China are used to have their officials, from top to bottom, espousing a single Party line, at least publicly. They do not understand that in most Western countries, there can be public disagreements.

And the West not being as bad as others, true or not, is irrelevant. Even doing *a little* bad according to its own principle is enough to give fodder to dictatorships to justify to everybody their own extreme abuse, including to their own people ("See how the West pretends to care about you but in fact does not").

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> he point is not being anti-Western as much as wanting the West (whatever that means, exactly) really building its own society(ies) according to the principles it so fiercely pretends to endorse.

Oh, I'll drink to that! For instance, the West should oppose ALL dictatorship, not just a cherry-picked selection. The West should support ALL people struggling for freedom against oppression, with weapons if necessary, not just a cherry-picked selection. And the West should fiercely defend its core values of political and religious freedom, equality, and democracy, against all enemies, foreign AND domestic.

By all means criticize the West when it fails to live up to those ideals, but remember that by being a citizen living in the West you're actually privileged compared to people living under regimes who do not hold these ideals at all.

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Silver badge

" The West should support ALL people struggling for freedom against oppression, with weapons if necessary, not just a cherry-picked selection. "

Nice statement. But in say, Syria, who's in the right? Are the anti-Assad forces struggling for freedom, or a different flavour of oppression? Where's the democratic opposition in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi? Are a few "right-on" liberal dissidents in China representative of anybody but themselves? What about dubiously democratic states (eg Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore) where the population at large seem relatively happy? What about Ukraine or Pakistan, where there's no clear distinctions between the credibility, honesty and support for any of the pretenders to power?

The people of the Western "democracies" have started to wake up to the fact that they too are governed by political elites who govern in their own interests, not those of the wider population. OK so we have little or no political prisoners, that doesn't make for democracy, and it doesn't mark out our system of government as better.

So come again, what high moral ground are you defending?

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In Syria, those in the right are the Free Syrian Army, as opposed to the nutbags in the al-Nusra Front or ISIS. Just because it's complicated doesn't mean it's impossible to discern people who we should be supporting over others.

The "democratic opposition" in Iraq, Afghanistan or Saudi are most of the people - they're just cowed by religious fanatics and/or state security. They still deserve freedom. People naturally want freedom. It's just that sometimes you get so habituated to lack of freedom, and the fear and oppression to maintain that state, that most of the population just keep their heads down.

Our system of government (I'm an immigrant to the UK, but ignore that for now) IS better. By every measure. Freedom? Wealth? Health? Environmental care? Care for the poor?

Tell me, when was the last peaceful transfer of power in China?

My wife and I are both immigrants from different countries that just thirty years ago were dictatorships. I get really angry with people who grew up in the West and sneer at freedom. If you think the system in the West is so bad, you're free to move to another country and see what the system is like there.

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Silver badge

"If you think the system in the West is so bad, you're free to move to another country and see what the system is like there."

Errr, you've admitted you're the incomer. If you don't like us natives badmouthing our government, then you are free to move to another country where not only is there peace, freedom and democracy, but also the population universally adore their government and its measures to "protect their freedom". Where will that be?

Regarding how everything here is better than elsewhere, that's debatable at several levels, but the most significant challenge is simply that we have acheived the things you highlight because we're running a Ponzi economy funded by vast levels of irrepayable debt. Even now, with left wing politicians howling about austerity and cuts, the government is spending £100bn a year more than it gets in taxes, we've got over a trillion in public sector debt, and the private sector is no better, having become hooked on cheap credit.

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Anonymous Coward

For instance, the West should oppose ALL dictatorship, not just a cherry-picked selection. The West should support ALL people struggling for freedom against oppression, with weapons if necessary, not just a cherry-picked selection. And the West should fiercely defend its core values of political and religious freedom, equality, and democracy, against all enemies, foreign AND domestic.

I think it would be a good start if we get to a point where we apply those good values to ourselves. I understand we need certain powers for law enforcement, but as long as those who have been granted those powers do everything possible to avoid scrutiny I cannot help but thinking they have something to hide, whereas proper accountability and transparency would allow them to PROVE they're doing the right thing.

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> n say, Syria, who's in the right?

The rebels. They are indeed fighting for freedom against a really nasty tyrant. If, after Assad is strung up from a lamppost, they turn out to be dictators, we'll oppose them too. There isn't any moral, and to be honest not much of a security, problem with supporting the rebels in Syria -- those opposed to doing so oppose it because they're Libertarians. Libertarians are isolationists, and their constant opposition to overthrowing tyrants boil down to that it costs money. In short, it's the people opposed to arming the rebels in Syria who have a morality problem, as they value money over freedom and human life.

> Where's the democratic opposition in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi?

If there isn't any opposition, there isn't any problem.

> The people of the Western "democracies" have started to wake up to the fact that they too are governed by political elites

Again, I have never argued that the West is perfect, but as Churchill put it: "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

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> cannot help but thinking they have something to hide, whereas proper accountability and transparency would allow them to PROVE they're doing the right thing.

Yeah, no argument from me, I love transparency & scrutiny, it's necessary to avoid corruption. And corruption is incredibly damaging for society.

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