Information Warfare: July 10, 2003


One reason China does not use any Microsoft software is because they believe that  American manufacturers have inserted hidden code that allows American intelligence agencies to monitor Chinese computers, or even take them over in the event of a conflict with the United States. This cuts both ways, as American intelligence organizations use software that is produced outside the United States and sometimes created with the assistance of Chinese, or other non-American programmers. China has standardized on Linux, and carefully scrutinizes any software that they do buy from American publishers (usually because there is no similar product available from non-American suppliers.) A lot of this attitude can be classified as paranoia, as there has been no known case of secret code being slipped into commercial software by government intelligence agencies. But it is increasingly common for commercial software to have unpublicized code that passes customer information back to the publisher via an Internet connection. So the capability exists. However, given the scrutiny that commercial software gets (from thousands of curious users who just love to poke around), it's unlikely that such secret espionage code would be out there if not one instance has ever been discovered. Then again




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