Endpoint Security , Governance & Risk Management , IT Risk Management

DHS Warns of Data Theft Risk Posed by Chinese Technology

Agency Says New Law in China Opens Door to Government Data Access
DHS Warns of Data Theft Risk Posed by Chinese Technology

The Department of Homeland Security is warning U.S. companies about data theft risks associated with the use of Chinese technology and digital services.

See Also: OnDemand | 2023 OT Cybersecurity Year in Review: Lessons Learned from the Frontlines

In an advisory, DHS says that American businesses that rely on Chinese tech will be prone to government-sanctioned data theft under a new law in China that enables the government to require firms to turn over data “under the pretense of national security.”

U.S. businesses using Chinese technology - or services that are connected remotely to Chinese companies - should minimize the amount of data stored in China because it may be accessible by government authorities, DHS advises.

"For too long, U.S. networks and data have been exposed to cyber threats based in China which are using that data to give Chinese firms an unfair competitive advantage in the global marketplace," Chad F. Wolf, acting secretary of Homeland Security notes. "Practices that give the PRC government unauthorized access to sensitive data – both personal and proprietary – put the U.S. economy and businesses at direct risk for exploitation. We urge businesses to exercise caution before entering into any agreement with a PRC-linked firm."

National Security

The alert is the latest in a series of efforts by the Trump administration to counter what it portrays as national security threats posed by Chinese products and services.

On Dec. 11, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission upheld its designation of Chinese technology firms Huawei and ZTE as national security threats.

By reaffirming that both Huawei and ZTE are national security threats, U.S. telecom companies and wireless carriers can no longer tap into the FCC's $8.3 billion Universal Service Fund to buy equipment from the two companies. The commission is also requiring U.S. telecoms to rip and replace the Chinese equipment from their networks

Citing national security issues, Trump in August signed two executive orders attempting to ban the Chinese-owned social media apps TikTok and WeChat from operating in the U.S. (see: Trump Signs Executive Orders Banning TikTok, WeChat).

Trump's orders, however, were blocked by two U.S. Federal District Judges in November and December, allowing the apps to continue to be used (see: Commerce Department Lets TikTok US Operations Continue).

The FCC also recently voted to start proceedings that could revoke China Telecom's permission to provide communications services within the U.S.

About the Author

Akshaya Asokan

Akshaya Asokan

Senior Correspondent, ISMG

Asokan is a U.K.-based senior correspondent for Information Security Media Group's global news desk. She previously worked with IDG and other publications, reporting on developments in technology, minority rights and education.

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