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Pentagon Paying China To Carry Data (wired.com)
36 points by cyphersanctus 1519 days ago | hide | past | web | 16 comments | favorite



So it's not an issue to use Chinese manufactured electronic devices like mobile phones, laptops and TV's in your day-to-day lives, but all of a sudden the US needs to use a Chinese satellite and the foil hat wearers come out of the basement in fear? Think of the use of a Chinese satellite like the US using a Chinese made laptop or mobile phone, not really a big deal. We're talking about the US government here, the data would be heavily encrypted but if things were to ever sour the Chinese wouldn't need to try and decrypt the traffic to cause problems, they'd merely have to disable access to the satellite and boom! US loses a massive amount of needed bandwidth which would be far more damaging than decrypting the information I'd assume.

Considering just how much money is spent on defence yearly in the US I am surprised something as trivial as satellite bandwidth capacity is an issue. More money is spent on the military than anything else in the budget and yet after all of those hundreds of billions, still need to borrow capacity from a Chinese satellite. Makes you wonder where the priorities actually are doesn't it?

This is not really a big deal as far as privacy is concerned, it does however show just how reliant the US amongst other countries have become on countries like China for innovating and help keeping up with this heavily connected and forever-evolving world. Hopefully the in-sourcing boom trend continues and perhaps the US starts innovating and relying on itself again instead of others.


In all honesty, I would be more concerned about availability than someone breaking the encrypted data. Especially so if this satellite provides mission-critical support for the warfighter.


The title is incredibly political and biased.

US keep seeing themselves as the superpower - a superpower that is paying a rival (and developing) country instead of fighting against it. Why can't we move past that and think of win-win scenarios for both countries.

Taking this logic, the media in China should state: China is buying US debt - Yes, US. China is a significant holder in US debt and bought a lot when the economy turned sour in 2008. (Terrible investment since the US would just turn around and force the RMB to appreciate against the dollar). This in turn supported the US economy and the world's economy.

As I read the article, I see this as a win-win scenario. US gets bandwidth and China gets money. Cross border cooperation should be encouraged - not discouraged.


They didn't have much choice but to buy US debt. They get zillions of US dollars through the trade imbalance, that props up their economic growth and factories as Americans go into debt to buy things from China that they don't really need.

There's nothing else to do with a literal trillion dollars. You couldn't buy enough gold or oil without sending commodity prices parabolic and shooting yourself in the foot (since commodities are priced in dollars that's one use).

If they just held the dollars, they would do nothing but depreciate, even though the treasuries yield is low it's better than zero.

If they tried to dump the dollars, they'd find a market that couldn't absorb that scale and it would send the dollar plunging, which would in turn hurt the ability of Americans to buy Chinese goods, while boosting American export competitiveness.

And on the plus side, holding a trillion worth of US paper, is an ok leverage point (not great, because the Fed could wipe that out with a swipe of its hand).

There's no good scenario once you are accumulating hundreds of billions of dollars via a trade imbalance. Treasuries are the only market large enough to absorb it all.


The Chinese already manufacture a large volume of our hardware as well (with some of it skewed toward Taiwan). They have plenty of opportunities to install monitoring devices surreptitiously on land-based stuff, if they've already haven't, so unless the U.S. is planning on developing all hardware for the base stations as well (chips and all) in-house, this isn't doing much more to deliver that precious satellite data to them on a silver platter.

That said, Huawei has such a big lead in the rest of the world in comm tech, they probably already are monitoring. A wise opponent lets his adversary volunteer information first, before prodding for it.


Isn't this exactly the sort of problem public-key cryptography was designed to solve?


Signals intelligence is not just about reading enemy communications. Traffic analysis[0] would give the Chinese valuable insight into US military communication patterns. Changes in data patterns could alert them to changes on the ground.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic_analysis


What stops the US from sending a whole bunch of constant dummy traffic to disguise this? I realize bandwidth capacity and cost could be a reason, but if there were enough capacity and budget? OK, maybe that question is a non-starter.

I'm reminded of a funny time when I was in an internship. My team and another team was fighting over disk space in the database servers. So we created a whole bunch of dummy tables. Whenever one of us needed to do something, we'd request for one of the dummy tables to be dropped so that we could do our thing. The other team could never do anything. It was weird.


Cryptography solves the problem of spying on or altering the communications, but not the problem of blocking them. If the US was engaged in a conflict that China didn't like, they could theoretically cut off satellite communications, rendering our drones useless.


Or cryptography in general. Doesn't need to be public-key, could just as well be symmetric crypto.


Well, sure. The one big advantage that public key crypto brings is that you don't need a separate channel for key exchanges.


While you don't need encrypted channel to get a public key, you still need authenticated channel.


I would hope that Wired, at least, would be above these terrible linkbait headlines.


The states won't let a Chinese phone carrier do business here because of the chance for espionage, but turn around and do this? What irony....


It's all about raising barriers to keep foreign business out in the guise of national security.


And specifically it's about shielding the domestic telecom monopoly system. Verizon and AT&T wave their magic wand and Congressmen dance. A Chinese carrier would very likely come in and compete on price. Softbank is likely going to do just that as well, and I'm sure the last thing VZ and AT&T want is another competitor on price.




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