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Chinese It Firm Accused of Links to Cyberwarfare


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Beijing-based Venus Info Tech, a provider of IT network security to the Chinese military, has been accused of providing hacker services that help the Chinese government penetrate foreign government computer networks. Sources also accuse Venus of helping Beijing develop software to monitor and control the domestic Internet. The firm "is heavily party affiliated and the company personnel go through party indoctrination because they handle state secrets," says Scott Henderson, author of the book, The Dark Visitor — Inside the World of Chinese Hackers.

Western observers say that Venus has operating agreements with Microsoft and other non-Chinese firms that may help Beijing find vulnerabilities in other governments' networks. Henderson notes that several Chinese firms and government agencies have deep access to Windows source code as a result of Microsoft opening it to the China Information Technology Security Certification Center, a government agency, in 2003 under a government security plan. "Depending on the level of access they were provided, it would certainly seem to provide the Chinese with insight into flaws that they could exploit," Henderson says.

Sources say Venus has worked with two hacker organizations that have reinvented themselves as legitimate network-security businesses. One is Beijing-based NSFOCUS, whose Chinese-language Web site still refers to the company as the Green Alliance, the name of a hacker group. "The company Web site also maintains a list of all its founding members, which reads much like a who’s who of Chinese hackers," Henderson says. NSFOCUS denies any connection to illegal hacker activities.

From Wendell Minnick
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