Archive for the ‘China’ Tag

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Everyone’s got their security problems, but India’s National Technical Research Organization (which is supposed to be similar to the US’s NSA) appears to have some big ones. After an “audit”, some of their internal, classified information got out into the public domain. Oddly enough, Pakistani and Chinese targets they were monitoring began to disappear. More info in this Tribune article

The article blames whistleblowers, but you have to wonder how long Pakistani, Chinese and other intelligence and CI agencies have had a foot in the door. Everyone knows that India and Pakistan don’t trust each other, but India has on the face of things, had positive relationships with the US and with China, even though the government has long been hedging its military options and recently agreed to buy jets for its air force from Russia instead of the US.

I guess it’s tough being so popular.

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Posted August 17, 2011 by jeffkeith in Security

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Brain-Dead on IP, part 2   Leave a comment


There are other ways to lose your company’s IP, like doing business in countries that require the disclosure of IP in order for products to enter their markets.

India and Japan just signed a bilateral trade agreement that will reduce tariffs on about 90% of trade for 10 years. One clause in the agreement requires companies that sell telecommunications equipment in India to disclose the source code to their products to the government. This isn’t so unusual (China has a similar requirement), but Japanese companies balked at the clause and it has since been put on hold. Maybe the recent arrests made some Japanese business leaders a bit less trusting of the Indian government’s ability to keep their source code out of private, and competing, hands?

On a side note, I wonder how much the alleged abuses in spectrum licensing in India influenced the rollout of 3G and 4G services in the country? According to the linked article, Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) “is just 198 rupees ($4.38) a month, down from 230 rupees a year ago” – with such a narrow margin for Indian providers, cutting and limiting costs in their operations is crucial for survival in the market. The motivation to acquire any useful technology without having to invest in it must be very high. If control over 2G spectrum allocations drove such a corruption scandal, I wonder what access to the Indian government’s source code repository could do?

When governments get involved in code escrow, as was proposed in the India-Japan deal or as required in China, companies in sensitive industries are put in a difficult position. On the one hand, a foreign government could pass along their IP to a local competitor who operates globally (which is alleged in China repeatedly – use Google for dozens of links). Aside from purely competitive risks, these decisions can also have an affect on international competitiveness and the security of the home country or society-at-large. Companies in the military and dual-use technology arenas are (hopefully) a bit more careful about these issues. (I am thoroughly convinced that export control laws have more to do with that restraint than any ethical standards among modern executive leadership).

In the regular public sector, however, decision-makers need to consider the potential harm to their domestic operations as well as potential social impacts that might occur under worst-case scenarios. As an example, Microsoft gave the Chinese government source code for various products like Windows, which the Chinese security establishment appears to be analyzing thoroughly for weaknesses (link courtesy of this interesting article).

Microsoft made the “profit-oriented” decision to disclose code in order to sell in China, and neglected the potential social impact issues. I’m excluding competitive issues because everyone knows that Microsoft’s products are usually pretty shitty before the first 100-or-so patches are applied, so nobody would really want to steal their code ;-).

Now, everyone who uses Microsoft’s products are potentially/eventually at risk of attack. (and let’s not forget the Chinese aren’t the only ones with the code link, link) Regular consumers of, say, Windows, don’t get access to the source code and are not generally able to evaluate Microsoft’s security, which props up another industry that has been failing for years to address problems. Governments who use Microsoft products are also vulnerable to newly-discovered attacks and each day we’re hearing more and more about those attacks also (here’s today’s hacked government link)

Interesting stuff, for sure.

to be continued…

Posted February 17, 2011 by jeffkeith in Security

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