Innovation and trade secrets are apparently being stolen from Western businesses at an alarming rate by covert Chinese spies using online platforms, experts have warned.
Speaking at the recent Five Eyes summit in California, which brought together the heads of security agencies from the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, MI5 Director General Ken McCallum warned of the unprecedented risk posed by Chinese espionage.
Speaking to the BBC, McCallum stated that, “We have seen a sustained campaign on a pretty epic scale.” According to MI5, over 20,000 people were contacted through networking sites such as LinkedIn.
Espionage on an ‘epic scale’
"These technologies are at a historic moment where they are beginning to change our world in some pretty fundamental ways, and we know that authoritarian states are laser-focused on the opportunities that these technologies may present for them."
Chinese companies have also attempted to get their hands on innovations and technologies developed by UK organisations through investment channels hidden by complex company structures, meaning that tracing where the money is originally coming from is not immediately evident.
Areas seeing increasing growth and rapid development such as artificial intelligence are of particular interest to China, who may potentially use it to create their own AI or interfere in western politics.
The FBI also voiced its concerns stating that previously the bureau was opening a new investigation into China every 12 hours, and that there were currently over 2,000 active cases.
Talking to journalists at the event, FBI Director Chris Way said, "China has made economic espionage and stealing others' work and ideas a central component of its national strategy and that espionage is at the expense of innovators in all five of our countries. That threat has only gotten more dangerous and more insidious in recent years."
This is the first Five Eyes alliance meeting to take place publicly, highlighting the seriousness of the threat.
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Benedict Collins is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Pro covering privacy and security. Before settling into journalism Ben worked as a Livestream Production Manager, covering games in the National Ice Hockey League for 5 years and contributing heavily to the advancement of livestreaming within the league.
He has a MA in Security, Intelligence and Diplomacy, alongside a BA in Politics with Journalism, both from the University of Buckingham. Outside of work Ben follows many sports; most notably ice hockey and rugby. When not running or climbing, Ben can most often be found deep in the shrubbery of a pub garden.