[ISN] Foreign spy activity surges to fill technology gap

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Wed Jan 03 2007 - 23:33:57 PST


By Bill Gertz
January 3, 2007

Foreign spies are stepping up efforts to obtain secret U.S. technology 
through methods ranging from sexual entrapment to Internet hacking, with 
China and other Asian countries leading the targeting of U.S. defense 
"The apparent across-the-board surge in activity from East Asia and 
Pacific countries will continue in the short term as gaps in 
technological capability become apparent in their weapons-development 
processes," the latest annual report by the Defense Security Service 
counterintelligence office stated.
"The globalization of defense business will increase the threat from 
strategic competitors who will use legitimate business activities as a 
venue to illegally transfer U.S. technology," the report said, noting 
that the use of third countries to disguise collection will continue as 
a common tactic.
The report provides details of the methods used by foreign technology 
spies, from simple verbal requests for information to purchases of 
controlled technology and -- in at least one case -- the use of a woman 
who seduced a contractor into providing his computer password.
Other methods included offering marketing services to contractors, 
spying during visits to U.S. companies and the use of "cultural 
commonality" to obtain technology.
The report did not identify the 106 countries that are engaged in the 
collection activity, but other defense officials said the most active 
technology spies are working for China, Russia and Iran. Other 
collectors of U.S. technology were identified as agents working secretly 
for Israel, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Egypt and United Arab 
Emirates, the officials said.
The unclassified 2006 report, "Technology Collection Trends in the U.S. 
Defense Industry," [1] was approved for release in June, but only 
recently made available to defense contractors and government agencies. 
A copy was obtained by The Washington Times. It is based on 
counterintelligence reports from contractors and other data through 
early 2006.
Space systems, lasers and missile- and radar-evading stealth technology 
are among the most sought-after U.S. technologies, the report said.
Other key targets include information systems, modeling and simulation 
technology, optics, aeronautics, sensors, explosives, electronics and 
marine systems.
The report said the largest percent of the 971 spying incidents detected 
during the latest reporting period came from East Asia and the Pacific 
with 31 percent of all incidents, while the Near East accounted for 
about 23 percent. About 19 percent of the incidents emanated from 
Eurasia and 13 percent from South Asia.
The report provides several cases showing how foreign spies have tried 
to obtain technology, through simple verbal requests, covert computer 
hacking and clandestine intelligence activities.
One case revealed in the report involved an East Asian company that 
sought to obtain classified technology related to U.S. unmanned aerial 
vehicles (UAVs), a cutting-edge U.S. military technology.
The Asian representatives showed up at a classified facility at the U.S. 
defense company uninvited and tried to "observe the repair" of 
previously purchased unclassified systems.
The report said the "aggressive effort" to visit the company appeared to 
be a "veiled attempt to collect information on other high-interest UAV 
programs at the facility." It was the fourth time since 2003 that the 
company sought UAV goods.
Several U.S. defense contractors have reported that between October 2005 
and January 2006 they found radio-frequency transmitters hidden in 
Canadian coins that were planted on them after they traveled through 
Canada, according to the report.

[1] http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/2006trends.pdf

Subscribe to InfoSec News

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.3 : Wed Jan 03 2007 - 23:53:02 PST