Those Darn Chinese Posted by: Dale Franks
on Monday, February 18, 2008
Free trade is a wonderful thing. As David Ricardo pointed out nearly two centuries ago, when two nations trade freely, they both become richer. This has been proven throughout history.
There is, however, one important concern with free trade, and an important reason not to engage in it, and that is national security. for free trade to work, neither of the trading nations can be allowed to use it to do harmful things to the other nation.
Case in point: a new computer virus that is sophisticated, extremely difficult to find and erase, and that propagates itself with extraordinary ease. This virus—a Trojan Horse, actually—has been discovered in digital photo frames imported from...you guessed it...China.
An insidious computer virus recently discovered on digital photo frames has been identified as a powerful new Trojan Horse from China that collects passwords for online games - and its designers might have larger targets in mind.
"It is a nasty worm that has a great deal of intelligence," said Brian Grayek, who heads product development at Computer Associates, a security vendor that analyzed the Trojan Horse.
The virus, which Computer Associates calls Mocmex, recognizes and blocks antivirus protection from more than 100 security vendors, as well as the security and firewall built into Microsoft Windows. It downloads files from remote locations and hides files, which it names randomly, on any PC it infects, making itself very difficult to remove. It spreads by hiding itself on photo frames and any other portable storage device that happens to be plugged into an infected PC.
That sounds bad, and it is. This virus goes out on the internet and downloads files to your computer. Files that can, for instance, capture everything you type on your keyboard, copy and upload your personal computer files to a remote location, or even create a back door that would allow a remote user to take full control of your computer.
And this isn't your run-of-the-mill virus slapped together by some "script kiddie" somewhere. No, this is something quite different.
The authors of the new Trojan Horse are well-funded professionals whose malware has "specific designs to capture something and not leave traces," Grayek said. "This would be a nuclear bomb" of malware.
By studying how the code is constructed and how it's propagated, Computer Associates has traced the Trojan to a specific group in China, Grayek said. He would not name the group.
He won't name the group because I suspect it's directly supported by the Chinese government, and naming it would cause an uproar. But this type of effort has Chinese government fingerprints all over it, in my view.
Sure, free trade is an important principle. But, it's not quite as important as defending the country from hostile states.
Nothing really new under the sun here. China and probably every other country / large corparation out there has been leveraging computers and the internet as a force multiplier for espionage. But i doubt any conspiracy between the chinese gov’t and the company manufacturing the digital photo frames exist. It’s more likely that one of the computers in the assembly line (probably the one that loads the stupid demo pics or test the finished product) was already infected either accidently or intentionally. There was a similar issue with external hard drives manufactured in either thailand or tawain several months ago. And let’s not forget in 2005 when sony used a rootkit to install their copyright protection software.
Right. The Chinese are our friends. We have nothing to fear from a little healthy competition from governments who do the same thing our nasty corporations do. I am certain GE, Exxon, etc. are developing viruses and hacking Chinese government computer systems. The pet virus accidentally escaped. There is a reward for its return.
"This sort of the thing is one of the reasons why I refuse to buy anything made in China,"
Some years ago I bought a parka that was made in China. The hood was trimmed with fur, and our dog was constantly sniffing at the fur. I never knew why until I read an article about the Chinese using dog fur for clothing. I then realized why our dog was constantly sniffing at my parka hood. I am even more troubled by the idea of what part of the dog the fur came from to inspire all that sniffing. I have disturbing visions of Chinese clothing manufacturers laughing their posteriors off at the idea of my face peeking out through a ring of dog butt fur. Other than that, it was an okay coat.