China has hacked ‘every major company’ in US claims ex-spy chief

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Mike McConnell, who served as director of national intelligence under President George W Bush, has claimed that hackers backed by the Chinese government have broken into computers and networks of nearly every major American company to siphon off intellectual property including business plans, product blueprints, among other things.

Speaking during a session at the University of Missouri, McConnell said: “The Chinese have penetrated every major corporation of any consequence in the United States and taken information.”

“We’ve never, ever not found Chinese malware,” he added. This malware, he said, allowed the attackers to extract and steal data as and when they wanted.

During his speech he also revealed, that the Chinese government went onto employ a whopping 100,000 hackers during the final years of the Bush administration to break into computers of US government including those of the US Congress, Department of Defense, State Department and major US corporations.

The US government has said it has caught Chinese spies stealing blueprints and business plans. Last year, federal prosecutors took the unprecedented step of filing formal criminal charges against five Chinese government spies for breaking into Alcoa, US Steel Corp., Westinghouse and others.

But McConnell’s assertion is different. It would mean that no large company can escape the massive theft of American entrepreneurial ideas, CNN Money reported.

McConnell listed what the Chinese are stealing: “planning information for advanced concepts, windmills, automobiles, airplanes, space ships, manufacturing design, software.”

“If they can take that, before we can take it to market – for free – and it’s unchecked for 15, 20 years, I would say that has strategic consequences for the United States,” he said.

Several hacking experts who consult companies on cybersecurity backed up the idea that Chinese hacking is widespread. But they doubt every, single major US company has been broken into by Chinese government operatives.

Others doubted McConnell’s assertions, noting that placing the blame after a hack is extremely difficult.

“I think his comment is reckless and misguided,” said John Pirc, a former CIA cybersecurity researcher. He said he’s consulted at large companies after breaches and couldn’t point the finger at China.

McConnell did not respond to calls for comment on Friday, the report said.