China’s Internet spying

Businessmen in major metropolitan hotels find their computers are penetrated, reports Asia Sentinel

Last June, at about the time of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, several members of the internal investigation unit of a US company assembled at an international luxury chain hotel in Beijing for a conference.

The company does not want to be identified, or even to have its field of business identified more specifically. When the employees got back to their home base, they discovered that their computers had been penetrated through the hotel’s internet system. The penetration of some of the computers was so extensive that their hard disks crashed.

“They had been hacked through and through,” said a source. “It happened in the hotel through the internet connections. Whoever was on the other end had the ability to go clear into their hard disks.”

Another source who recently stayed at a major international hotel in Shanghai to visit clients – and who also doesn’t want his profession made public – went through a similar experience.

“Every time I opened Internet Explorer,” he said, “the whole screen would dim before it went back to normal. My email accounts couldn’t be opened, my company account couldn’t be opened. And after two days, I got a warning that my brand new hard disk was in danger and that I should back up everything right away.”

The source’s Internet Explorer and email accounts behaved normally again once he was out of China, he said. The laptop was only used in the hotel, he added.