It is crazy, but the startling March 9 Washington Free Beacon headline screamed out with a dissonance akin to a teacher running her fingernails down a blackboard to get her students attention, “Microsoft Responds to China Cyber Attack by Expanding Business in China.”
What the heck?
Chinese Communist Party hackers breached the Microsoft Outlook systems impacting at least 20,000 U.S. organizations according to federal government estimates, quite probably leaving undetected backdoors into systems for future use in espionage or system disruption.
The Free Beacon reports that Microsoft acknowledged the China-based attacks on March 2 as the company scrambled to plug the security breach aimed at its Windows-embedded Outlook email program. But most astonishingly, they also report that on March 4, the same Microsoft announced a massive new deal in China to expand it cloud computing capacity in the country through Chinese partner 21Vianet.
While the Redmond, Washington-based multi-national giant may not be able to see the problem of proceeding with business as usual with a country which engages in cyberwarfare against it and its customers, the rest of America needs to pay attention.
In addition, Microsoft’s Chinese partner 21Vianet does business with Alibaba and Huawei, companies that the Pentagon recognizes as intelligence agents of the Chinese Communist Party. Not to mention, the troubling fact that the expanded Microsoft cloud will increase the Chinese government’s capacity to utilize facial recognition and other civil liberties-destroying technology used by Beijing to control its population, oftentimes with brutal and deadly results. Microsoft is facing a challenge by Amazon, Oracleand others over a $10 billion contract they garnered to be the single cloud provider for the U.S. Department of Defense.
That’s right, the same company working hand in glove with a Chinese government-tied contractor to expand that government’s cloud capacity also has the contract to hold all of the United States defense information in a separate remote cloud storage system.
What could go wrong?
After all, a company would never build capacity for two separate nations using the same underlying coding, creating the pathway for breaching either system? Naw, that would never happen.
While 21Vianet’s and hence Microsoft’s tech ties to Chinese information tech-sanctioned companies like Huawei may seem benign at first, it is important to remember that sixty nations around the world are led by prodding from the United States to protect the 5G infrastructure program of the future. They are all participating in the Clean Network program to keep Chinese companies and products out of their countries 5G systems. The reason? The national and economic security risks posed by backdoors built into systems that would allow the Chinese Communist Party to crash vital systems threaten the security of the entire world are a threat unlike any other in history.
The cybersecurity concerns posed by these partnerships with Chinese Communist Party-aligned companies become even more clear given the massive successful attack on Microsoft’s systems. The Chinese cyberattacks are not some kid hackers playing in their basement, but a systematic, on-going attempt to breach and bring down critical infrastructure around the world.
If only Microsoft could see the danger they put their customers in as they plunge ahead with deals with the same bad actors who attack their systems and customers. But even if Bill Gates Incorporated is blind tothe problem, perhaps someone in the Department of Defense is paying attention?
NEXT UP on Monday in this on-going series on China’s on-going threat to America, What Elon Musk is doing with China and why it should scare the heck out of you.
Cross-posted with The Daily Torch
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