Communication devices found on Chinese-made cranes in US ports


source: (contributed by FAN, Steve Page)  | image:


A congressional investigation into Chinese-built cargo cranes at U.S. ports has uncovered concerns about potential national security risks.

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, some of the cranes were found to contain communications equipment, including cellular modems, that could be accessed remotely.

Lawmakers worry about the threat of espionage and disruption posed by these cranes, which are predominantly manufactured by ZPMC, a Chinese company.

Dmitri Alperovitch, author and former special adviser to the Department of Defense, joined “On Balance” to discuss the report, saying, “It’s a huge concern.”

Utilizing modems to remotely monitor operations and track maintenance at U.S. ports is not uncommon; however, the Journal reports some ports did not request the installation of modems on the cranes.

The Chinese government denies any national security threat, but concerns persist.

“There have been communication devices that have been found on the cranes. They can be remotely controlled,” Alperovitch said. “First of all, for intelligence collection purposes, you can use it to figure out what is going on in a port. And then you might have the ability to actually destroy that infrastructure and prevent logistics, for example, from flowing into the Indo-Pacific if there’s some sort of conflict with China.”

The report comes amid an announcement from the Department of Justice revealing a former Army intelligence analyst has been indicted on six counts for sharing confidential information with China, and a former software engineer at Google has been charged with stealing artificial intelligence trade secrets from the company while secretly working with two companies based in China.

“There’s huge concerns around a number of these huge companies, either private companies or state-owned enterprises in China,” Alperovitch said.

This comes as a bill that could lead to the popular video sharing app TikTok being unavailable in the United States is quickly gaining traction in the House as lawmakers voice concerns about the potential for the platform to surveil and manipulate Americans.

“We’re finally waking up to the threat,” Alperovitch said. “But we have to up our game, and we have to move much quicker.”

In response, the Biden administration plans to invest in replacing foreign-built cranes with domestically manufactured ones and has introduced maritime cybersecurity measures amid fears of Chinese cyberattacks on critical infrastructure.