THE FITZGERALD AND MCCAIN INCIDENTS, APPLE, GOOGLE, & CHINA

Before we get to today's blog topic, I want to extend some remarks of thanks to all of you who've been so patient as this never-ending saga of delays never ends. This has played havoc with my ability to schedule anything for almost a year and a half, and hence this month I have not yet scheduled any vidchats nor been able to schedule any interviews. Needless to say, this is not easy to deal with, and I truly appreciate everyone's patience. I am exhausted and dog tired from constantly getting things ready, and then having the schedule collapse once again. So thank you for understanding and for your patience.  This means, also, that blogs and News and Views are up in the air this week as well, but I will try to keep everyone apprised.  Some components have arrived, which now sit uselessly in big boxes in my living room.

In any case, by way of context to introduce today's blog, regular readers here will recall that when the USS Fitzgerald and USS John McCain had their respective collisions off the coasts of Japan and Singapore, I was suspicious. The US Navy wanted us, at the time, to write this all off to incompetence and poor training. Indeed, a few military or former military that I am familiar with, also tried to convince me that this was, indeed, the reason. I remain, however, skeptical of it. At the time, it seemed to me that perhaps some sort of exotic hacking - remote or otherwise - might have occurred, not only to the American ships, but also to the ships which collided with them. My suspicions fell on Russia, even though regular readers here know I'm not a "blame-Russia-for-everything" person. The reason for that was the two suspicious incidents involving Russian aircraft, and the shutdown of electrical systems on the USS Donald Cook, first in the Black Sea, then again in the Baltic. The Russians demonstrated similar electronic warfare capability when they first intervened in Syria, so it was a reasonable guess to make at the time.

But there is another story that has recently come to light that may have some bearing on all of this, and indeed, so many people sent versions of it that I was positively overwhelmed; almost the entire list of people - and then some - who share articles on a regular basis did so here. If I were to make a simple "guesstimate" of the percentage of that list who did so, I'd say it was easily around 80 percent. In any case, it was a record, and thank you to all of you who passed along various versions of the story.

The story is that the Chinese have been planting tiny microchips, in effect, hacking the hardware, and that this hardware has infected major American corporations such as Apple, Google, and even the Central Intelligence Agency. (Gee, go figure! Who would have thought the Chinese would do that after farming out the tech industry to them?) Here are two versions of the story:

The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies

Explosive Report Details Chinese Infiltration Of Apple, Amazon And The CIA

There's something in the Zero Hedge article that caught my eye, as it did the many people who passed it along:

One week ago, President Trump stood up at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council and accused China of attempting to tamper with US elections - mimicking some of the same allegations that had first been levied against Russia nearly two years prior. In his speech, Trump claimed that China was working to undermine Republicans, and even the president himself, warning that "it's not just Russia, it's China and Russia." While the media largely shrugged off this proclamation as more presidential bombast probably inspired by the burgeoning US-China trade beef, the administration continued to insist that it was taking a harder line against Chinese efforts to subvert American companies to aide the Communist Party's sprawling intelligence apparatus. As if to underline Trump's point, the FBI had arrested a Taiwanese national in Chicago the day before Trump's speech, accusing the 27-year-old suspect of trying to help China flip eight defense contractors who could have provided crucial intelligence on sensitive defense-related technology.

But in a game-changing report published Thursday morning, Bloomberg Businessweek exposed a sprawling multi-year investigation into China's infiltration of US corporate and defense infrastructure.Most notably, it confirmed that, in addition to efforts designed to sway US elections, China's intelligence community orchestrated a pervasive infiltration of servers used to power everything from MRI machines to the drones used by the CIA and army. They accomplished this using a tiny microchip no bigger than a grain of rice.

BBG published the report just hours before Vice President Mike Pence was expected to "string together a narrative of Chinese aggression" during a speech at the Hudson Institute in Washington. According to excerpts leaked to the New York Times, his speech was expected to focus on examples of China's "aggressive moves against American warships, of predatory behavior against their neighbors, and of a sophisticated influence campaign to tilt the midterms and 2020 elections against President Trump". His speech is also expected to focus on how China leverages debt and its capital markets to force foreign governments to submit to its will (something that has happened in Bangladesh and the Czech Republic.  (Italicized emphasis added, boldface emphasis in the original)

Let that sink in for a moment: small computer chips hidden in hardware that is used by major American corporations, American intelligence, and military equipment from drones to warships, giving the Chinese the ability to monitor, and one may presume, alter or direct remotely the behavior of American equipment, from warships to voting machines.

Now, anyone with common sense could have predicted (and did predict) that this would be the result of farming out the American technical industry to China. The key here is that this story may be, and I suspect is, the real context for the rapid efforts being made to "reshore" American industry, and particularly its technical industry, to North America, and particular, to the region in and around Silicon Valley. That will not, of course, make American systems one hundred percent secure, but it will at least close a very open door and set of windows. What soldier, pilot, or warship skipper wants to go into battle thinking that at any moment his decisions and equipment can be overridden by Beijing? What broker or banker wants to place orders for trades, again, knowing that the systems which execute them could be overridden by Beijing? The temporary answer is to reshore, but even with reshoring however, the problem is not solved, because America has also been hollowing out its education while awarding "gender studies" degrees at home to create a cadre of truly useless idiots whose only talent seems to be that they can scream well. Reshoring only goes so far to address the problem. The other problem is stepping up information and engineering education, and making both it and the chip industry "native" once again. It is, in short, now a major national security issue. By sheer numbers, China can produce much more engineering and technology graduates than can the USA, and has been investing mightily in its human capital, while the USA has been... well, need I mention the screaming "gender studies" graduates again?

The bottom line here is that while everyone has been focused on Russia as "the big problem," the real "big problem" has been China. As the USA has been pushing ipads and cell phones and Apple trade and so on world wide to shore up the dollar's reserve status, China has been piggybacking on that effort, since the vast majority of those platforms is made in - you guessed it - China.

The story thus puts the USS Fitzgerald and USS John McCain incidents into stark relief, and gives a bit more credence to those of you out there who speculated that they were the result of faulty equipment and Chinese cyber-warfare capability.

But there's another implication here, and it's going to have the midnight oil burning not just in Washington, but in Moscow, Berlin, Rome, Paris, London, New Delhi and Madrid and any other major capital as well, because the implication of this story is that those nation's military equipment, trading markets, and intelligence communities are also infiltrated, and it means, like it or not, that they too will have to massively expand their own independent capability in computer chip production.

The world just changed, because this story has massive and seismic geopolitical implications. And in the long term, it does not benefit China, whom no one really trusts to begin with. The fallout from this story will be with us, and China, for years, if not decades.  And in the midterm, it benefits certain other countries who are a bit "higher" on the trust list...

... Japan, and South Korea, for example...

Already some nations are having second thoughts about China's "one belt, one road initiative," and this story is not going to help China, at least, not as currently configured under Emperor Xi Jinping. Everyone will now have to rethink everything, including China...

See you on the flip side...

 

30 thoughts on “THE FITZGERALD AND MCCAIN INCIDENTS, APPLE, GOOGLE, & CHINA”

  1. . . . Scepticism directed towards the Navy will likely follow those incidents mentioned like lampreys attached to Great Lakes Perch before their numbers were reduced. . . Not unlike the doubts that Unidentified Aerial Craft (UAP) ever existed when many folks actually know better, but lack the “other’s” permission to present their crafts, wears, and what would seem biology to Terran folk to gawk at or something or say, “I don’t believe it,” or something else idiotic. . . Besides, since when must the other’s elaborate for some doll and pony show when they don’t have to. . . Their existence and presence are NOT contingent on terrestrial policies and bigotries or on an approval rating in the first place. . . The US Navy on the other hand has some questions to answer, not because some folks are curious about what happened (although true), what got damaged, or whose lives were endangered and lost. . . The damaged goods are apparent and costly to start. . . Whether there’s a flash-point amid your “high-octane speculation” one doesn’t know and don’t have the onboard details for those incidents. . .Those folks on official distribution lists know better than to engage the free press with speculation and hearsay for a headline or by-line. . . Well, . . they’re supposed to know better. . .

    . . . Electronic hacking, of course, is not a thing of the past, but very relevant from auto computer electronics via satellite, not unlike a modified global positioning system, or handheld phones/pads/laptops. . . One could say that the technique of STUXNET was fruitful and multiplied as well as become modified by genius electronic wizards of whom only they know their intent(s). . . Zero-day events come in many guises it seems as well as cleverly cloaked, if not by accident due to crapware programming. . .

    . . . Regarding possible Chinese and Russian electronics entrepreneurs using the latest hardware and software available to them to affect onboard electronics of, say, susceptible warships so equipped that regularly take in various signals relayed. . . well. . . One must ask, “Would one allow potential snooping so near to one’s coastline of the mainland or possible island building and deep water surveying for something with the future in mind?”. . Probably, not with a free ticket of passage, anyway, without doing some snooping of one’s own for, say, effect and for what signal intelligence one could get even test radio emission vulnerability. . . There’s usually RADAR used for navigational purposes to give away surface position. . . There’s a few other contentious activities one could list, but one doesn’t run contraband or sanctioned items, either. . . At any rate, certain western Pacific geo-political powers are not to be underestimated in their designs toward their goals. . .

    . . . One has heard that a “Wood Pecker” like sound signal, presumably propagated by some form of electromagnetic signal generator has been heard over speakers in an unexpected setting. . . Just when one thought that Duga, old Soviet (maybe not so old and turned off) over the horizon radar, was last known to be transmitting in 1989, . . . but mid-continental US? . . Maybe it’s mobile and just passing through. . . Perhaps, a US design in use for those not-so-easily talked about UAP’s. . .

  2. Also, while driving up Chicago’s lakefront earlier this summer, we passed by the campus of Northwestern University. I couldn’t help but notice that virtually everyone we saw out walking was Chinese! I mean everyone!

  3. I’m trying to remember the particulars surrounding a suspicious Clinton-era transfer of ‘secret’ American missile guidance technology to the Chinese, via a failed satellite launch inside China.

  4. Also interesting: “Supermicro boards were so bug ridden, why would hackers ever need implants?”
    https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2018/10/supermicro-boards-were-so-bug-ridden-why-would-hackers-ever-need-implants/
    “More concerning still, this post from security firm Eclypsium shows that, as of last month, cryptographically signed firmware updates for Supermicro motherboards were still not publicly available. That means that, for the past five years, it was trivial for people with physical access to the boards to flash them with custom firmware that has the same capabilities as the hardware implants reported by Bloomberg.”

    “Besides requiring considerably less engineering muscle than hardware implants, backdoored firmware would arguably be easier to seed into the supply chain. The manipulations could happen in the factory, either by compromising the plants’ computers or gaining the cooperation of one or more employees, or by intercepting boards during shipping the way the NSA did with the Cisco gear they backdoored.

    Of course, the easier path of backdooring motherboards with firmware in no way disproves the Bloomberg claims of hardware implants.”

    1. https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2018/10/supermicro-boards-were-so-bug-ridden-why-would-hackers-ever-need-implants/?comments=1&post=36170079#comment-36170079
      “A bootkit-based backdoor could be injected by the BMC into the server operating system. The BMC can reset the server OS whenever it likes and change the boot order to load a custom ISO, which then chain-loads the real OS with an injected backdoor. An example of this (and my favorite way to break into ‘secure’ servers via the BMC) is Konboot: https://www.piotrbania.com/all/kon-boot/

      If a malicious firmware image bundled a similar payload and picked a random time/boot iteration to trigger this, it would be pretty difficult to detect, even in a well-managed datacenter.”

  5. The Chinese are very patient and devious, therefore it was a fool’s errand to allow them to capture any defense projects from ANY country, in light of the fact they intend to be world-dominant by 2049.
    At least that’s the conclusion of Michael Phillips in his revealing book “The Hundred Year Marathon”. Phillips has been a China-watcher for DC thinktanks since at least the Reagan years as was one of those encouraging more Chinese development such as allowing them to join the WTO and projects to bring them into the 20th century.
    Seems they’re not so honest and have villified America and Americans to their citizenry. Oh, did I mention Phillips is fluent in Mandarin? Helps to know what they’re actually speaking/writing.
    To sum up, this chip discovery is no big surprise and although it may be the straw that broke the Camel’s back, perhaps we should be picking up many more straws for investigation.

  6. Robert Barricklow

    The real problem isn’t China; but a system that encourages this bifurcation syndrome. What is need is a wealth story that binds mankind/spirit to life; not it’s deterioration, exploitation & destruction; but to forge new ways which benefits all living spirits.
    The “way” took a wrong turn too many moons ago for most to comprehend a new path, let alone realize it MUST be done.

    Meaning while; whether by design, or chance….

  7. Dr Farrell, I hope that virtual pipe organ gets sorted soon, it must be frustrating for you.
    Would love to hear you play it.

  8. This is what happens when our elites don’t think or care about the consequences of their actions. But then our elites are and have always been jerks, smash and grab, swindlers, liars, false witness, trustless the perfect tool for their puppetmasters whoever they really are.

  9. Well being one of those who immediately posited China both because they build the relevant hardware and because of where these incidents occurred, I was not surprised by this report. However, I do think the explanation given (“really tiny chip”) is a gross oversimplification crafted for public consumption — a limited hangout — and the actual implementation was far more sophisticated and far more difficult to detect.

    As for Google and Amazon and Apple and their vocal denials, well, they have to maintain public confidence in their Chinese manufactured Spi-Phones and tracking software and the whole mass data-mining / surveillance scam they so handsomely profit from and so of course they are going to come out vehemently against this broadside to their commercial monopolies. As was said about politics, don’t believe anything coming from the government until it is vehemently denied.

    Timing is also a big tell here, coming as it does as the administration is finally ramping up its promised “China, China China…” policy, inciting a trade war, disrupting its markets, challenging its military expansion in the South China Sea and in Africa, and trying to cleave China and Russia’s rapprochement. it’s a full-court press and this is just oh-so-handy as a brake on China’s ambitions (which were of course all enabled by Nixon, Bush I and Clinton — thanks guys!).

    And yes, the infiltration of Intel, Microsoft and Apple products is far more extensive and fully sanctioned by collusion between the MIC three-letter boys and the corporations, and frankly the US is not really even in control of >that< either, as pointed out by others here.

    So, simplistic half-answer which nevertheless has validity but which carefully skirts the other elephant in the living room.

    1. Well said basta, you beat me to it.
      Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!
      Not to mention that the story comes from Bloomberg of all places.
      Are we now suddenly supposed to believe the pathetic dribble that comes out of the MSM?
      This exact story appeared in New Zealand’s national “news” paper this last Saturday.
      That is all I need (or actually DON’T need) to know.

  10. The “Mr. Li’s” of this world have assuredly not stopped financial manipulation via web. The Japanese are surely the wisest people in Asia, with 81% of their transactions done by cash. You know, PAPER MONEY and not plastic cards.

  11. So…. out with the “one belt, one road”
    and in with the “one chip, one world”. Gotcha.

  12. I direct your attention to Jim Stones comments on this.
    Maybe the Chinese/Russians have jumped on the bandwagon of the USSA/MIC’s monumental stupidity late in the game; and I wouldn’t blame them if they did. This is more of a limited hangout to allow the Israeli’s to skate on their designed in back door in every CPU manufactured over the last 20+ and more war mongering by a Judea, Inc. owned government used as their attack dog. Why has that story been stricken from the news? Easy to understand when they own the media, that lapdog government/MIC, and the global corporations.
    The sheer stupidity of the USSA leadership and the greed of global corporations is to blame for all of this. But then, they are just following their owners orders. When you own the media, the government, the money, the global corporations, and virtually everything else you will be told what to think and how to act. The current rollout of 5G and the IOT will ensure their control along with the current crackdown on the alt media.
    The sooner the world realizes that we have a common enemy who wages war by deception and believes it was promised the rulership of the entire earth by their pagan war god in an ancient text written by them, for them, the sooner we can be rid of the problems generated by their narcissistic insanity and their wealthy, insane enablers. They have acted with impunity long enough. It’s time to put that rabid dog down.
    Let the wailing, screeching, rending of clothing, and gnashing of teeth begin; along with the cries of antisemitism; then put a round squarely between that rabid beasts eyes to silence the noise.

    1. WD:

      “Let the wailing, screeching, rending of clothing, and gnashing of teeth begin; along with the cries of antisemitism; then put a round squarely between that rabid beasts eyes to silence the noise.”

      Hey you posted it, including that “rabid beast” garbage.

      Keep up the Nazism–it’s so helpful and productive. /s

      1. WD:

        “nor do I believe it’s the fault of the “Jews” in general; nor do I bear any animosity toward them as a people. Their particular mindset has been inbred in them for thousands of years by their leadership; and it is a toxic mindset, like it or not.”

        That statement contains an inherent contradiction.

        1. WD:

          “get over”?

          No, that contradiction, which is frequent from your ilk, is to be underlined.

    2. gads i hate it when lost sounds sane.

      wd. just like every other race, ethnicity, nation,….. blaming the people is blaming the victims. the hootoos and tutsis didn’t kill each other because of inbred mindset. there were other factors beyond the people’s control. poverty, all the usuals,….. and then again there probably some unusuals: operation crimson mist?

      jews aren’t the problem. corrupt powerful people pretending to lead and hiding behind layers and layers of lies and false dialectics are the problem. you just fell for another one of those. don’t get me wrong. i dislike the ideas espoused by what i think are self labeled ashkenazi. i also think the 10 – 25% of every religion espousing religiously justified genocide are the problem. your arguments easily fall into that category.

      i don’t know bout you all but understanding the breakaway civie’s tech and motives and efforts are what i’m all about here. i’d prefer to think everyone else is too and that we’re all about the stuck here civilizations as humans we’d like to see do well?

    3. Valid points. Being our beloved senator from FL, Marco Rubio, sponsored a bill this year which was passed by a “voice” vote – no record – to continue the giving USA high technology (costing US taxpayers billions each year) to Israel without any concern for Israel’s growing ties with Russia and China that includes their military’s and businesses – silk road project. How did China obtain the technology?

  13. “Russian aircraft, and the shutdown of electrical systems on the USS Donald Cook, first in the Black Sea, then again in the Baltic. The Russians demonstrated similar electronic warfare capability when they first intervened in Syria, so it was a reasonable guess to make at the time.”

    The “shutting down” of the Donald Cook’s electrical systems remains simply an internet rumor. No less authority than a guy name V. Putin said something more like “the advanced targeting system achieved a continuous lock on the Donald Cook, and the ship’s captain realizing he could do nothing to shake this system wisely withdrew”. Not an internet rumor.

    The small “Chinese chips” claim is widely and publicly disputed by both Apple and Amazon.

    Nothing wrong with repeating rumors as long as they are identified and massive contradictions noted.

    The Fitzgerald problem is that the entire ship’s crew (at least the ones awake) also has to have been “hacked”; that is significantly more of a “hack”.

  14. It’s no wonder American college students drift into subjects like gender studies. In the math or physics class they can neither relate to their Chinese professors nor understand anything they are saying.

    1. There are huge problems with math and physics.

      Equations have been changed.

      “fundamental” facts of physics, and some mathematics, are human givens.

      Results from major experiments are mischaracterized all the time.

      Equations when honestly presented can be helpful models (applied math if you like) but though they can describe the volume of a box (or more complex shape) they are terrible when it comes to the contents of the box, absent incredibly complex modeling systems–ones only really available via computers in the last 30 years.

  15. Actually, the hardware ‘hack’ was a lot more subtle than “using a tiny microchip no bigger than a grain of rice.” Here are several informed comments about what probably was the hack:
    arstechnica dot com/tech-policy/2018/10/bloomberg-stands-by-chinese-chip-story-as-apple-amazon-ratchet-up-denials/?comments=1&post=36134409#comment-36134409
    arstechnica dot com/gadgets/2018/10/bloomberg-super-micro-motherboards-used-by-apple-amazon-contained-chinese-spy-chips/?comments=1&post=36125963
    arstechnica dot com/gadgets/2018/10/bloomberg-super-micro-motherboards-used-by-apple-amazon-contained-chinese-spy-chips/?comments=1&post=36126869
    arstechnica dot com/gadgets/2018/10/bloomberg-super-micro-motherboards-used-by-apple-amazon-contained-chinese-spy-chips/?comments=1&post=36127269#comment-36127269
    arstechnica dot com/gadgets/2018/10/bloomberg-super-micro-motherboards-used-by-apple-amazon-contained-chinese-spy-chips/?comments=1&post=36127893#comment-36127893
    arstechnica dot com/gadgets/2018/10/bloomberg-super-micro-motherboards-used-by-apple-amazon-contained-chinese-spy-chips/?comments=1&post=36128421#comment-36128421

    Another detailed report:
    https://www.servethehome.com/bloomberg-reports-china-infiltrated-the-supermicro-supply-chain-we-investigate/

    And finally, an older report on why the above is only a small part of the problem (this is in every Intel computer processor, not only on certain motherboards):
    “The Trouble with Intel’s Management Engine”
    https://hackaday.com/2016/01/22/the-trouble-with-intels-management-engine/
    “There are many researchers trying to unlock the secrets of Intel’s Management Engine, and for good reason: it’s a microcontroller that has direct access to everything in a computer. Every computer with an Intel chip made in the last few years has one, and if you’re looking for the perfect vector for an attack, you won’t find anything better than the ME. It is the scariest thing in your computer, and this fear is compounded by our ignorance: no one knows what the ME can actually do. And without being able to audit the code running on the ME, no one knows exactly what will happen when it is broken open.”

      1. Interesting. Your very pertinent comment (via great URL) was ‘invisible’ for a day or two, just long enough for Gizars to move on…

  16. anakephalaiosis

    William Tyndale translating the Bible for the ploughboy to read, equals translating Druidic Rune symbols, for the same ploughboy, to be able to create his own judiciary.

    Reviving the Runic symbols today, should bring about the fall of papacy and all monarchies of Europe. It will also affect the American 1776.

    DRUIDIC JUDICIARY 1
    Livestock is blessing,
    yet wile before God’s judgement
    deserves flogging.

    Symbolizes breeding, beginning of life.

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