‘Chinese Whispers’ Documentary Illuminates Espionage

ABC.Net.AU’s Four Corners program aired an investigation on April 19th in which it claims that the IT systems of 3 major mining operations; Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals were all attacked and compromised from locations inside corporate China in the lead up to the sentencing of former Rio Tinto mining executive, Stern Hu for spying and accepting bribes.

In a documentary entitled ‘Chinese Whispers‘, sources from within all 3 mining companies claim their IT systems were targeted and hacked with the intent of espionage.  All 3 companies claimed to have upgraded IT security in response to these attacks.  Rio Tinto discovered that an intruder had launched an attack impacting Rio’s Perth office, forcing it to bring its Singapore office offline for 3 days “to upgrade security”.  Fortescue had reportedly uncovered “sophisticated, targeted” attacks on key employees, resulting in a “serious IT security upgrade” and a new set of  travel policies for employees.  Executives travelling to China are told to remove their Blackberry batteries to prevent interception, encrypt all communications, and not take laptops with sensitive data into the country.

The program was unable to pinpoint where in China the alleged attacks came from, and had no hard evidence directly implicating the Chinese State.


SC Magazine has a detailed write-up  SC