U.S. government warns about security risks when working with Chinese companies

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report warns U.S. companies about the use of digital hardware and services developed or linked in some way to Chinese companies. Officials believe these products could contain security errors, backdoors and other data collection mechanisms that will be sent to servers of Asian companies in order to gain advantages over their competitors in the West.

This practice, identified as “data theft sponsored by the People’s Republic of China,” has exposed multiple U.S. companies to various cyber threats deployed from the Asian giant: “Attacking companies seek an unfair advantage in the global market,” says Chad F. Wolf, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security.

Days later, Wolf also mentioned that China posed “a clear and real danger” to democracy in the U.S. This DHS notice was issued less than a month before the change of administration; President-elect Biden is expected to appoint his next DHS manager in the coming days. During President Trump’s administration, multiple U.S. officials have focused on taking severe steps to counter the growth of Chinese technology in the West.

This is an issue that is increasingly of concern to the U.S. government. In mid-2020, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray mentioned that nearly 50% of all of the agency’s counterintelligence cases were related to the theft of U.S. technology by Chinese companies and government.

In its most recent notice, DHS warns that these spying and information theft activities may also be presented through compromised third-party teams: “Any individual or company that acquires data services from companies linked to the Chinese government must take into account the financial, security and, in some cases, legal risks involved in working in this way” Wolf concludes.