The Case of the Stolen BlackBerry and the Awesome Chinese Hacking Skills
A high-level British government employee had his BlackBerry stolen by Chinese intelligence:
The aide, a senior Downing Street adviser who was with the prime minister on a trip to China earlier this year, had his BlackBerry phone stolen after being picked up by a Chinese woman who had approached him in a Shanghai hotel disco.
The aide agreed to return to his hotel with the woman. He reported the BlackBerry missing the next morning.
That can't look good on your annual employee review.
But it's this part of the article that has me confused:
Experts say that even if the aide’s device did not contain anything top secret, it might enable a hostile intelligence service to hack into the Downing Street server, potentially gaining access to No 10’s e-mail traffic and text messages.
Um, what? I assume the IT department just turned off the guy's password. Was this nonsense peddled to the press by the UK government, or is some "expert" trying to sell us something? The article doesn't say.
EDITED TO ADD (7/22): The first commenter makes a good point, which I didn't think of. The article says that it's Chinese intelligence:
A senior official said yesterday that the incident had all the hallmarks of a suspected honeytrap by Chinese intelligence.
But Chinese intelligence would be far more likely to clone the BlackBerry and then return it. Much better information that way. This is much more likely to be petty theft.
EDITED TO ADD (7/23): The more I think about this story, the less sense it makes. If you're a Chinese intelligence officer and you manage to get an aide to the British Prime Minister to have sex with one of your agents, you're not going to immediately burn him by stealing his BlackBerry. That's just stupid.
Posted on July 22, 2008 at 10:05 AM • 40 Comments