back to article French Hacker Legion is West's foremost snoop squad says Robert Gates

Former spy and defense department secretary Robert Gates has identified France as a major cyber-spying threat against the US. In statements that are bound to raise eyebrows on both sides of the Atlantic, Gates (not Bill) nominated French spies as being number two in the world of industrial cyber-espionage. “In terms of the …

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  1. RedneckMother

    hmmm...

    “What we have accused the Chinese of doing – stealing American companies' secrets and technology – is not new, nor is it something that's done only by the Chinese,” Gates tells ...

    Yeah - but what about NON American (actually, U.S. - sorry, just quoting) secrets? Anyone have a clue about what the U.S. is doing to other countries?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: hmmm...

      Once upon a time, pre-Interweb days, the word going around the defense industry was that anything we did would be in Israeli hands in a matter of weeks. So.. I guess they would be the only country not stealing US secrets?

      As for what the US is doing to other countries, my belief is that CIA/NSA is giving "tips" to the industry for them to ferret out the info but I could be wrong. Maybe further revelations from Mr. Snowden will shed light on this aspect.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: hmmm...

        "....As for what the US is doing to other countries, my belief is that CIA/NSA is giving "tips" to the industry for them to ferret out the info but I could be wrong...." You are wrong. Any such occurrences would have leaked long ago.

  2. Scott Earle

    The French are a threat to the US?

    In the same way as how the US are a threat to ... anyone who is not the US?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: The French are a threat to the US?

      In the same way as how the US are a threat to ... anyone including US companies/citizens.

      There FTFY.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Americans Not Doing It?

    Sorry, I just chocked on my morning coffee. At the very least he can be a bit more imaginative when telling fibs.

    If USA was not doing that, Boeing would have been knocked out at least 10 times so far as a part of various WTO and subsidy investigations. It does it all right and is operating hand in hand with the government (same as any other business involved in the defence sector). USA has been doing it since the days of Roosevelt. Some businesses (aerospace, oil, etc) benefit more, some less. Depends on the level of foothold you have on Capitol Hill.

  4. frank ly

    L'Etat, c'est moi!

    Let them eat freedom fries.

  5. Mark 85 Silver badge
    Headmaster

    A minor point..

    I believe in the official US lexicon it supposed to be: Cheese-eating Surrender Monkeys.

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: A minor point..

      And the French are bloody good at making cheese -- unlike the rather odd plasitc sheeets of yellow that are dividers inside burgers.

      1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: A minor point..

        ...the rather odd plasitc sheeets of yellow that are dividers inside burgers.

        That's supposed to be cheese?! Who knew? I always use the diner-speak term for that substance: wax.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    *cough* *cough* *cough*

    “We nearly are alone in the world in not using our intelligence services for the competitive advantage of our businesses.”

    *cough* *cough* *cough* *choke* *cough* *cough* *cough*

    Just because you don't have the style of the french to atleast be directed at some; doesn't mean you aren't doing the same with mass surveilance dragnets that just grabs it all.

    Anonymous 'cause I can hear a chopper around here somewhere...

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: *cough* *cough* *cough*

      The Merkins are still pissed off that the French don't seem too bothered with the bluster and merely throw cows at them from the castle walls.

      The Americans have been farted at, well, somewhere in thier general direction.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: *cough* *cough* *cough*

        The Merkins are still pissed off that the French don't seem too bothered with the bluster and merely throw cows at them from the castle walls.

        Massive upvote for the Holy Grail references (and on a Friday as well :) ).

        Must dig out my copy of that movie and watch again..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: *cough* *cough* *cough*

      “We nearly are alone in the world in not using our intelligence services for the competitive advantage of our businesses.”

      Airbus, and Thomson-CSF would beg to differ. Obvious liar is lying obviously, to an almost breathtaking degree. Do it to people, and well... they'll do it back to you.

  7. sandman

    Dereliction of Duty

    If as Gates says, the US are the only country NOT passing on commercial information gleaned by their spies, then surely that is a shocking dereliction of duty by the government.

    However, I need to run inside to shelter from the fallout of the squadrons of flying pigs passing overhead.

  8. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Holmes

    Freedom Fries back on the menu soon!

    So, did that french Mistral frigate sale to Russia actually go through? I thought it was still on hold.

    “There are probably a dozen or fifteen countries that steal our technology in this way."

    When one thinks five seconds about the possessive pronouns in this phrase, throwing up bilious acid in the face of unelected bureaucrats robbing you blind (if not maiming you outright) is the best thing to do.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: Freedom Fries back on the menu soon!

      "“There are probably a dozen or fifteen countries that steal our technology in this way.""

      And he knows this because he has all their communication channels tapped.

      I smoked dope once, but I didn't inhale = I slurped the entire world data comms once, but I didn't use it.

      I did not have sexual relations with that woman, she just gave me a blow-job - can't stand the bitch otherwise.

      We need a pinochio icon for all US spook statements

  9. Christoph Silver badge

    “We nearly are alone in the world in not using our intelligence services for the competitive advantage of our businesses.”

    Words fail me.

    I mean really. I usually have a snarky comment to make about this sort of thing, but that claim is just beyond belief. You'd have to be a Fox News watcher to credit it for an instant.

  10. phil 27
    Black Helicopters

    There's no doubt the French undertake some kind of surveilance. I ran a unix server on a fixed IP in France at one of my houses there, and I was continually seeing ssh brute force attempts even about 8 years ago. Then, after moving it to a high port, I got a single entity repeatedly portscanning it during working hours and probing the high numbered ssh port, which didnt respond as was running a knock daemon. At one point the ip testing got some of the port sequence to get it to open but it was running keys only login etc so wouldnt have done them that much good but someone was obviously looking at packet dumps to see the knock sequence etc and slowly figuring it out.

    Curious at a rather technically skilled attempt, I traced it back to a group I knew about by name. So I dug until I got hold of a email address connected that I could cross reference to the source IP, and lets say it was a more official address than I was expecting.

    I fired off a cheeky mail saying thanks for the scan but please can you stop scanning me now as I'm happy everything is secure and got back some cheesy reply how they were just auditing fixed ip's in France to help people from external attacks due to insecure services and there's nothing to worry about. And the next day the scans stopped dead.

    Its nothing that I haven't seen in the UK, but I've never traced a uk scan back to a official entity yet...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Meh

    UK Eyes Alpha - or not

    The British have long spied on commercial rivals, for example Operation Jet Stream was an MI6 op for spying on 'rival' European partners.

    Can't really point fingers when you are doing it yourself.

    1. Norm DePlume

      Re: UK Eyes Alpha - or not

      I think the difference is that we don't currently have a highly visible official telling embarrassingly obvious fibs about it.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Historical facts....vs stated platitudes...

    The US arms deals & airliner deals have been famous wrt the US gov "help" given to the respective mil-industrial Co's.

    What their competition was looking to charge etc.etc. was laid out in front of them esp in the Airbus vs Boeing fights.

    Gosh a pigeon must have dropped off those numbers etc into the laps of the unsuspecting Boeing execs.

    e.g.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/03/business/03wikileaks-boeing.html?pagewanted=all

    But hey who really expects a spook to tell the truth to anyone except those with a need to know?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Historical facts....vs stated platitudes...

      "But hey who really expects a crook to tell the truth to anyone except those with a need to know?"

      FTFY.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Historical facts....vs stated platitudes...

        Crook, spook, there doesn't appear to be much difference today. Oh, wait, with spooks there is a free get out of jail (or rather a "never go to jail because it's national security") card, where "national interest" translates as "the interest of my biggest campaign donor".

        I am not surprised it's impossible to get any transparency of what governments are up to. They must have quite a massive closet building budget to keep up with the ever increasing collection of skeletons. I'm not one for violence, but I must admit occasionally thinking that Guy Fawkes was on to something - is there a US equivalent? At least the Brits celebrate him, which is IMHO rather good fun.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Why not?

    It's not that the CIA & NSA didn't try to collect economic/business-related information, it's that they were bloody useless at it. Gates mentions elsewhere that he offered to work with five (5!) Secretaries of Commerce and was told not to bother.

  14. RobHib
    Angel

    Not a bit surprised!

    Not surprised really, France has always been a law unto itself; and hypocrisy has never particularly worried the French.

    After all, the French were the driving force behind the Berne Copyright Convention of 1886—Victor Hugo and his cronies. We owe the enormous strength of modern copyright law to the French who argued so fervently for strong copyright at Berne. Even today, the French are extremely strong on all matters pertaining to intellectual property laws and IP generally.

    That said, copyright and IP only seem to matter when they're aggrieved.

    __

    I've French relatives and this article reminds me of something they've said to me on more than one occasion "You Anglophone speakers—especially the UK—are France's 'natural' enemy, it's always been thus! So, why during the 20th C. have you been so stupid as to spend so much time fighting your brothers the Germans? (They're grateful of course.)

    Conversations usually end thus:

    "Mais que pouvez-vous attendre d'un bouledogue stupide?"

    [Excuse my French.]

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    "Piously, he reminds the audience that it's something America would never do: “We nearly are alone in the world in not using our intelligence services for the competitive advantage of our businesses.”

    Oh man, I almost wet myself on this one :). Was the interview given after lunch?

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