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Chinese proverb: 'Proof is in the pudding' about spying

Reading the Washington Post report that the US is charging five Chinese military personnel with cybercrime and spying, how does that make you feel? Here is the deal, US companies and organizations alleged that Chinese spies stole their secrets. The Chinese government denies this, of course.

FBI Wanted posters for Chinese industrial spies

“In a statement he read at a news conference, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said: ‘The range of trade secrets and other sensitive business information stolen in this case is significant and demands an aggressive response. . . . Success in the international marketplace should be based solely on a company’s ability to innovate and compete, not on a sponsor government’s ability to spy and steal business secrets.’”

First, there are some questions.

Did the US companies and organizations adequately protect their secrets?

“As my colleague Ellen Nakashima reported, earlier this morning the Justice Department charged five members of the Chinese military with conducting economic cyber-espionage against U.S. companies, the first time that the United States has brought such criminal charges against a foreign country.”

Charged with conspiring to hack are five members Unit 61398 of the 3rd Department of the People’s Liberation Army, based out of a building in Shanghai.

Here are the victims:

“Victims of the hacking are Westinghouse Electric; U.S. subsidiaries of SolarWorld; U.S. Steel; Allegheny Technologies; the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union; and Alcoa.”

Westinghouse Electric

“Westinghouse Electric Company provides fuel, services, technology, plant design, and equipment for the commercial nuclear electric power industry.

Westinghouse nuclear technology will help provide future generations with safe, clean and reliable electricity.”


“We do more than make great solar. We create American jobs, support American suppliers and advance American innovation.”

U.S. Steel

“The United States Steel Corporation, more commonly known as U.S. Steel, is an American integrated steel producer with major production operations in the United States, Canada, and Central Europe.”

Allegheny Technologies

“Allegheny Technologies Incorporated is an American specialty metals company headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the United States.”

United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy

“The United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied-Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW) represents working and retired members throughout the United States and Canada in just about every sector of the North American economy. From metals and mining and manufacturing, to healthcare and various services in both the public and private sectors.”

Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union


"Our customers demand leading-edge performance in everything from beverage cans to parts for cars and trucks and jumbo jets. In the U.S., where Alcoa was born, new ideas in materials, design, manufacturing and innovation help customers stay ahead of the pack."

If people (Chinese included) wanting to learn as much as they can about their competitors and their competitive situations employ research techniques that include probing published or otherwise publicly accessible information is that spying or is that market research? If computer savvy researchers can peck away at target computers to get inside to gain information, is that spying, hacking, breaking the law or just taking advantage of soft spots? From the list of organizations here, it is pretty clear what the Chinese are trying to determine. It isn’t just patented technology as much as it appears to be operational details and cost information.

Let’s see how the prosecution proceeds. Not being a fan of Chinese spying, it is a legitimate wonder if these companies might be crying foul when it is their own competence that should be in question.

"Computer crime, or Cybercrime, refers to any crime that involves a computer and a network.[1] The computer may have been used in the commission of a crime, or it may be the target.[2] Netcrime is criminal exploitation of the Internet."