Pentagon Sees Giant Cargo Cranes As Possible Chinese Spying Tools
Equipment at U.S. ports could pose risk of surveillance or sabotage, officials say; China says concerns are ‘paranoia-driven’. Pentagon Sees Giant Cargo Cranes As Possible Chinese Spying Tools
WASHINGTON—U.S. officials are growing concerned that giant Chinese-made cranes operating at American ports across the country, including at several used by the military, could give Beijing a possible spying tool hiding in plain sight.
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In 2021, FBI agents searched a cargo ship delivering ZPMC cranes to the Baltimore port and found intelligence-gathering equipment on board, some of the people said. The Wall Street Journal couldn’t determine what action, if any, was taken as a result.
Some national-security and Pentagon officials have compared ship-to-shore cranes made by the China-based manufacturer, ZPMC, to a Trojan horse.
While comparably well-made and inexpensive, they contain sophisticated sensors that can register and track the provenance and destination of containers, prompting concerns that China could capture information about materiel being shipped in or out of the country to support U.S. military operations around the world.
The cranes could also provide remote access for someone looking to disrupt the flow of goods, said Bill Evanina, a former top U.S. counterintelligence official.
“Cranes can be the new Huawei,” Mr. Evanina said, referring to the Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co., whose equipment U.S. officials have effectively banned after warning that it could be used to spy on Americans.
“It’s the perfect combination of legitimate business that can also masquerade as clandestine intelligence collection.” Huawei has said its products aren’t a national-security risk.
A representative of the Chinese Embassy in Washington called the U.S. concerns about the cranes a “paranoia-driven” attempt to obstruct trade and economic cooperation with China.
“Playing the ‘China card’ and floating the ‘China threat’ theory is irresponsible and will harm the interests of the U.S. itself,” it said.
Representatives of ZPMC, whose full name is Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co., didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The recent tension over high-altitude balloons as an alleged means of Chinese surveillance has cast a spotlight on the changing nature of espionage and how nations keep tabs on each other, beyond the more conventional intelligence-gathering tools of spies and satellites.
In recent years, U.S. national-security officials have pointed to a range of equipment manufactured in China that could facilitate either surveillance or disruptions in the U.S., including baggage-screening systems and electrical transformers, as well as broader concerns about China’s growing control of ports around the world through strategic investments.
China makes almost all of the world’s new shipping containers and controls a shipping-data service.
In that context, the giant ship-to-shore cranes have drawn new attention. The $850 billion defense policy bill lawmakers passed in December requires the Transportation Department’s maritime administrator, in consultation with the defense secretary and others, to produce an unclassified study by the end of this year on whether foreign-manufactured cranes pose cybersecurity or national-security threats at American ports.
National-security officials haven’t detailed any instances of cranes being used to nefarious ends. In the case of the high-altitude balloon shot down in February, U.S. authorities said the vehicle was made by a manufacturer with a direct relationship with the Chinese military and carried antennas and sensors for collecting intelligence and communications.
Western law-enforcement authorities have identified the threat posed by Chinese espionage, including the theft of technology, as a priority.
ZPMC cranes entered the U.S. market around two decades ago, offering what industry executives described as good-quality cranes that were significantly cheaper than Western suppliers.
In recent years, ZPMC has grown into a major player in the global automated-ports industry, working with Microsoft Corp. and others to connect equipment and analyze data in real time.
“We used to sell equipment, but now we are selling systems,” said Hailiang Song, ZPMC’s then-chairman, in a 2017 video on Microsoft’s website. In the video, then-President Qingfeng Huang added: “Through our main office in Shanghai, you can monitor all the cranes” to help troubleshoot. Microsoft didn’t respond to a request for comment.
ZPMC executives were often celebrated around the U.S., where no comparable cranes are manufactured. During a visit to the Charleston, S.C., port in 2018, Mr. Huang presented a model of a crane to a local middle school.
Today, ZPMC says it controls around 70% of the global market for cranes and has sold its equipment in more than 100 countries. A U.S. official said the company makes nearly 80% of the ship-to-shore cranes in use at U.S. ports.
The huge cranes are generally delivered to U.S. ports fully assembled on ships and are operated through Chinese-made software.
In some cases, U.S. officials said, they are supported by Chinese nationals working on two-year U.S. visas, factors they described as potential avenues through which intelligence could be collected.
The Defense Intelligence Agency conducted a classified assessment in 2021 and found that Beijing could potentially throttle port traffic or gather intelligence on military equipment being shipped.
U.S. officials didn’t say whether they had found any specific instances of ZPMC cranes being used for espionage.
“DIA’s analytic efforts assist the U.S. military in anticipating and mitigating threats to global mobility, which relies in part on commercial transportation and shipping,” DIA spokesman Lt. Col. Dean Carter said.
In the past two years, ports in Virginia, South Carolina and Maryland that are at times used by nearby U.S. military bases acquired new cranes from ZPMC, prompting concern within the U.S. national-security community and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to people familiar with the concerns.
William Doyle, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration, said the Baltimore port had purchased four cranes from ZPMC and hasn’t found any issues while assembling and testing them, and is continually scanning the networks for security.
A spokesman for the port of Norfolk, Va., said the facility has deployed ZPMC cranes for two decades and uses its own employees to operate and maintain them. A spokeswoman for the Charleston port declined to provide comment.
ZPMC is a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Co., a leading contractor for Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative to develop infrastructure and trade links across Asia, Africa and beyond.
In 2020, U.S. authorities limited five CCCC units’ access to U.S. technology, citing its role in Beijing’s military-civil fusion program, among other factors.
“It wouldn’t be hard for an attacker to disable one sensor on a crane and prevent the crane from moving,” said Chris Wolski, who formerly ran cybersecurity for the port of Houston. “These systems aren’t designed for security, they are designed for operations.”
Some industry executives said while they didn’t think the cranes had access to sensitive data that wasn’t otherwise accessible, some ports have turned to software provided by Swiss company ABB Ltd. to operate ZPMC cranes.
Other ports, including Savannah, Ga., the East Coast’s second-biggest cargo port, use cranes of Finnish provider Konecranes, which usually cost around a third more than their Chinese rivals, industry experts said.
Rep. Carlos Giménez (R., Fla.) introduced legislation last year to ban future U.S. purchases of Chinese cranes and encourage other manufacturers. The congressman, a former mayor of Miami Dade County, whose port has some ZPMC-manufactured cranes, said he proposed the legislation when he became aware that the software on ZPMC cranes could be used for nefarious purposes.
“The physical and logistical technology infrastructure at ports is a critical area of vulnerability,” Mike Wessel, a member of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a congressionally-convened commission known for its hawkish perspective on China, said in a statement.
The commission was briefed on the cranes-security issue last year by defense officials, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Wessel declined to acknowledge the briefing or comment on any specifics discussed there.
Early in the Trump administration, officials in the National Security Council’s strategic planning office came to consider cranes as a unique point of interest, said Sean Plankey, a former cybersecurity official who was involved in those discussions.
“Where would someone attack first and how would they do it?” he asked, characterizing the discussion.
He said the officials determined that if Beijing’s military could access the cranes, they could potentially shut down U.S. ports without drawing on their navy.
A National Maritime Cybersecurity Plan, released in December 2020, found that no single U.S. agency had responsibility for maritime network security, leaving port directors without enforceable standards on cybersecurity and generally free to buy equipment from any vendor.
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Fed Chair Says Agency Monitoring Crypto But Not Developing Its Own (#GotBitcoin?)
Wesley Snipes Is Launching A Tokenized $25 Million Movie Fund (#GotBitcoin?)
Mystery 94K BTC Transaction Becomes Richest Non-Exchange Address (#GotBitcoin?)
A Crypto Fix For A Broken International Monetary System (#GotBitcoin?)
Four Out Of Five Top Bitcoin QR Code Generators Are Scams: Report (#GotBitcoin?)
Waves Platform And The Abyss To Jointly Launch Blockchain-Based Games Marketplace (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitmain Ramps Up Power And Efficiency With New Bitcoin Mining Machine (#GotBitcoin?)
Ledger Live Now Supports Over 1,250 Ethereum-Based ERC-20 Tokens (#GotBitcoin?)
Miss Finland: Bitcoin’s Risk Keeps Most Women Away From Cryptocurrency (#GotBitcoin?)
Artist Akon Loves BTC And Says, “It’s Controlled By The People” (#GotBitcoin?)
Ledger Live Now Supports Over 1,250 Ethereum-Based ERC-20 Tokens (#GotBitcoin?)
Co-Founder Of LinkedIn Presents Crypto Rap Video: Hamilton Vs. Satoshi (#GotBitcoin?)
Crypto Insurance Market To Grow, Lloyd’s Of London And Aon To Lead (#GotBitcoin?)
No ‘AltSeason’ Until Bitcoin Breaks $20K, Says Hedge Fund Manager (#GotBitcoin?)
NSA Working To Develop Quantum-Resistant Cryptocurrency: Report (#GotBitcoin?)
Custody Provider Legacy Trust Launches Crypto Pension Plan (#GotBitcoin?)
Vaneck, SolidX To Offer Limited Bitcoin ETF For Institutions Via Exemption (#GotBitcoin?)
Russell Okung: From NFL Superstar To Bitcoin Educator In 2 Years (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Miners Made $14 Billion To Date Securing The Network (#GotBitcoin?)
Why Does Amazon Want To Hire Blockchain Experts For Its Ads Division?
Argentina’s Economy Is In A Technical Default (#GotBitcoin?)
Blockchain-Based Fractional Ownership Used To Sell High-End Art (#GotBitcoin?)
Portugal Tax Authority: Bitcoin Trading And Payments Are Tax-Free (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin ‘Failed Safe Haven Test’ After 7% Drop, Peter Schiff Gloats (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Dev Reveals Multisig UI Teaser For Hardware Wallets, Full Nodes (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Price: $10K Holds For Now As 50% Of CME Futures Set To Expire (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Realized Market Cap Hits $100 Billion For The First Time (#GotBitcoin?)
Stablecoins Begin To Look Beyond The Dollar (#GotBitcoin?)
Bank Of England Governor: Libra-Like Currency Could Replace US Dollar (#GotBitcoin?)
Binance Reveals ‘Venus’ — Its Own Project To Rival Facebook’s Libra (#GotBitcoin?)
The Real Benefits Of Blockchain Are Here. They’re Being Ignored (#GotBitcoin?)
CommBank Develops Blockchain Market To Boost Biodiversity (#GotBitcoin?)
SEC Approves Blockchain Tech Startup Securitize To Record Stock Transfers (#GotBitcoin?)
SegWit Creator Introduces New Language For Bitcoin Smart Contracts (#GotBitcoin?)
You Can Now Earn Bitcoin Rewards For Postmates Purchases (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Price ‘Will Struggle’ In Big Financial Crisis, Says Investor (#GotBitcoin?)
Fidelity Charitable Received Over $100M In Crypto Donations Since 2015 (#GotBitcoin?)
Would Blockchain Better Protect User Data Than FaceApp? Experts Answer (#GotBitcoin?)
Just The Existence Of Bitcoin Impacts Monetary Policy (#GotBitcoin?)
What Are The Biggest Alleged Crypto Heists And How Much Was Stolen? (#GotBitcoin?)
IRS To Cryptocurrency Owners: Come Clean, Or Else!
Coinbase Accidentally Saves Unencrypted Passwords Of 3,420 Customers (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Is A ‘Chaos Hedge, Or Schmuck Insurance‘ (#GotBitcoin?)
Bakkt Announces September 23 Launch Of Futures And Custody
Coinbase CEO: Institutions Depositing $200-400M Into Crypto Per Week (#GotBitcoin?)
Researchers Find Monero Mining Malware That Hides From Task Manager (#GotBitcoin?)
Crypto Dusting Attack Affects Nearly 300,000 Addresses (#GotBitcoin?)
A Case For Bitcoin As Recession Hedge In A Diversified Investment Portfolio (#GotBitcoin?)
SEC Guidance Gives Ammo To Lawsuit Claiming XRP Is Unregistered Security (#GotBitcoin?)
15 Countries To Develop Crypto Transaction Tracking System: Report (#GotBitcoin?)
US Department Of Commerce Offering 6-Figure Salary To Crypto Expert (#GotBitcoin?)
Mastercard Is Building A Team To Develop Crypto, Wallet Projects (#GotBitcoin?)
Canadian Bitcoin Educator Scams The Scammer And Donates Proceeds (#GotBitcoin?)
Amazon Wants To Build A Blockchain For Ads, New Job Listing Shows (#GotBitcoin?)
Shield Bitcoin Wallets From Theft Via Time Delay (#GotBitcoin?)
Blockstream Launches Bitcoin Mining Farm With Fidelity As Early Customer (#GotBitcoin?)
Commerzbank Tests Blockchain Machine To Machine Payments With Daimler (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin’s Historical Returns Look Very Attractive As Online Banks Lower Payouts On Savings Accounts (#GotBitcoin?)
Man Takes Bitcoin Miner Seller To Tribunal Over Electricity Bill And Wins (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin’s Computing Power Sets Record As Over 100K New Miners Go Online (#GotBitcoin?)
Walmart Coin And Libra Perform Major Public Relations For Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)
Judge Says Buying Bitcoin Via Credit Card Not Necessarily A Cash Advance (#GotBitcoin?)
Poll: If You’re A Stockowner Or Crypto-Currency Holder. What Will You Do When The Recession Comes?
1 In 5 Crypto Holders Are Women, New Report Reveals (#GotBitcoin?)
Beating Bakkt, Ledgerx Is First To Launch ‘Physical’ Bitcoin Futures In Us (#GotBitcoin?)
Facebook Warns Investors That Libra Stablecoin May Never Launch (#GotBitcoin?)
Government Money Printing Is ‘Rocket Fuel’ For Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin-Friendly Square Cash App Stock Price Up 56% In 2019 (#GotBitcoin?)
Safeway Shoppers Can Now Get Bitcoin Back As Change At 894 US Stores (#GotBitcoin?)
TD Ameritrade CEO: There’s ‘Heightened Interest Again’ With Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)
Venezuela Sets New Bitcoin Volume Record Thanks To 10,000,000% Inflation (#GotBitcoin?)
Newegg Adds Bitcoin Payment Option To 73 More Countries (#GotBitcoin?)
China’s Schizophrenic Relationship With Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)
More Companies Build Products Around Crypto Hardware Wallets (#GotBitcoin?)
Bakkt Is Scheduled To Start Testing Its Bitcoin Futures Contracts Today (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Network Now 8 Times More Powerful Than It Was At $20K Price (#GotBitcoin?)
Crypto Exchange BitMEX Under Investigation By CFTC: Bloomberg (#GotBitcoin?)
“Bitcoin An ‘Unstoppable Force,” Says US Congressman At Crypto Hearing (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Network Is Moving $3 Billion Daily, Up 210% Since April (#GotBitcoin?)
Cryptocurrency Startups Get Partial Green Light From Washington
Fundstrat’s Tom Lee: Bitcoin Pullback Is Healthy, Fewer Searches Аre Good (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Lightning Nodes Are Snatching Funds From Bad Actors (#GotBitcoin?)
The Provident Bank Now Offers Deposit Services For Crypto-Related Entities (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Could Help Stop News Censorship From Space (#GotBitcoin?)
US Sanctions On Iran Crypto Mining — Inevitable Or Impossible? (#GotBitcoin?)
US Lawmaker Reintroduces ‘Safe Harbor’ Crypto Tax Bill In Congress (#GotBitcoin?)
EU Central Bank Won’t Add Bitcoin To Reserves — Says It’s Not A Currency (#GotBitcoin?)
The Miami Dolphins Now Accept Bitcoin And Litecoin Crypt-Currency Payments (#GotBitcoin?)
Trump Bashes Bitcoin And Alt-Right Is Mad As Hell (#GotBitcoin?)
Goldman Sachs Ramps Up Development Of New Secret Crypto Project (#GotBitcoin?)
Blockchain And AI Bond, Explained (#GotBitcoin?)
Grayscale Bitcoin Trust Outperformed Indexes In First Half Of 2019 (#GotBitcoin?)
XRP Is The Worst Performing Major Crypto Of 2019 (GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Back Near $12K As BTC Shorters Lose $44 Million In One Morning (#GotBitcoin?)
As Deutsche Bank Axes 18K Jobs, Bitcoin Offers A ‘Plan ฿”: VanEck Exec (#GotBitcoin?)
Argentina Drives Global LocalBitcoins Volume To Highest Since November (#GotBitcoin?)
‘I Would Buy’ Bitcoin If Growth Continues — Investment Legend Mobius (#GotBitcoin?)
Lawmakers Push For New Bitcoin Rules (#GotBitcoin?)
Facebook’s Libra Is Bad For African Americans (#GotBitcoin?)
Crypto Firm Charity Announces Alliance To Support Feminine Health (#GotBitcoin?)
Canadian Startup Wants To Upgrade Millions Of ATMs To Sell Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)
Trump Says US ‘Should Match’ China’s Money Printing Game (#GotBitcoin?)
Casa Launches Lightning Node Mobile App For Bitcoin Newbies (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Rally Fuels Market In Crypto Derivatives (#GotBitcoin?)
World’s First Zero-Fiat ‘Bitcoin Bond’ Now Available On Bloomberg Terminal (#GotBitcoin?)
Buying Bitcoin Has Been Profitable 98.2% Of The Days Since Creation (#GotBitcoin?)
Another Crypto Exchange Receives License For Crypto Futures
From ‘Ponzi’ To ‘We’re Working On It’ — BIS Chief Reverses Stance On Crypto (#GotBitcoin?)
These Are The Cities Googling ‘Bitcoin’ As Interest Hits 17-Month High (#GotBitcoin?)
Venezuelan Explains How Bitcoin Saves His Family (#GotBitcoin?)
Quantum Computing Vs. Blockchain: Impact On Cryptography
This Fund Is Riding Bitcoin To Top (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin’s Surge Leaves Smaller Digital Currencies In The Dust (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Exchange Hits $1 Trillion In Trading Volume (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Breaks $200 Billion Market Cap For The First Time In 17 Months (#GotBitcoin?)
You Can Now Make State Tax Payments In Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)
Religious Organizations Make Ideal Places To Mine Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)
Goldman Sacs And JP Morgan Chase Finally Concede To Crypto-Currencies (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Heading For Fifth Month Of Gains Despite Price Correction (#GotBitcoin?)
Breez Reveals Lightning-Powered Bitcoin Payments App For IPhone (#GotBitcoin?)
Big Four Auditing Firm PwC Releases Cryptocurrency Auditing Software (#GotBitcoin?)
Amazon-Owned Twitch Quietly Brings Back Bitcoin Payments (#GotBitcoin?)
JPMorgan Will Pilot ‘JPM Coin’ Stablecoin By End Of 2019: Report (#GotBitcoin?)
Is There A Big Short In Bitcoin? (#GotBitcoin?)
Coinbase Hit With Outage As Bitcoin Price Drops $1.8K In 15 Minutes
Samourai Wallet Releases Privacy-Enhancing CoinJoin Feature (#GotBitcoin?)
There Are Now More Than 5,000 Bitcoin ATMs Around The World (#GotBitcoin?)
You Can Now Get Bitcoin Rewards When Booking At Hotels.Com (#GotBitcoin?)
North America’s Largest Solar Bitcoin Mining Farm Coming To California (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin On Track For Best Second Quarter Price Gain On Record (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Hash Rate Climbs To New Record High Boosting Network Security (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Exceeds 1Million Active Addresses While Coinbase Custodies $1.3B In Assets
Why Bitcoin’s Price Suddenly Surged Back $5K (#GotBitcoin?)
Zebpay Becomes First Exchange To Add Lightning Payments For All Users (#GotBitcoin?)
Coinbase’s New Customer Incentive: Interest Payments, With A Crypto Twist (#GotBitcoin?)
The Best Bitcoin Debit (Cashback) Cards Of 2019 (#GotBitcoin?)
Real Estate Brokerages Now Accepting Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)
Ernst & Young Introduces Tax Tool For Reporting Cryptocurrencies (#GotBitcoin?)
Recession Is Looming, or Not. Here’s How To Know (#GotBitcoin?)
How Will Bitcoin Behave During A Recession? (#GotBitcoin?)
Many U.S. Financial Officers Think a Recession Will Hit Next Year (#GotBitcoin?)
Definite Signs of An Imminent Recession (#GotBitcoin?)
What A Recession Could Mean for Women’s Unemployment (#GotBitcoin?)
Investors Run Out of Options As Bitcoin, Stocks, Bonds, Oil Cave To Recession Fears (#GotBitcoin?)
Goldman Is Looking To Reduce “Marcus” Lending Goal On Credit (Recession) Caution (#GotBitcoin?)
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