Chinese state media labels Windows 8 a 'potential threat'

Chinese state media labels Windows 8 a 'potential threat'

Summary: The Chinese state media attack on US software and hardware continues, with China’s CCTV state network broadcasting a critical report suggesting that Windows 8 is being used to harvest data about the country’s citizens for use by the US government.


Chinese Central Television (CCTV), one of the country's leading state television broadcasters, has weighed into the Chinese media's continuing attack on US software and hardware systems, with a news report suggesting Windows 8 is a "potential threat" to China's information security.

In the report, aired this week, Ni Guangnan, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said that the operating system has the potential to collect more detailed information about Chinese nationals than the country's own government can claim — with that data potentially ending up in the hands of the US government.

"Your identity, account, contact book, phone numbers, all this data put together can be used for big data analysis," said the academic. "This analysis could be more accurate than our own official statistics. The US has a law that requires any entities that have this data to voluntarily report to the government. So, the data might be a good way to monitor other countries."

According to Yang Min from Fudan University — who was also interviewed in the report — Microsoft has moved to withhold its source code from the Chinese government as it reviews US equipment within its borders, and poses a "challenge" to security.

"Microsoft would no longer open its Windows 8 source code to the Chinese Government," he said. "However, the security scheme of the operating system is designed to provide better access for Microsoft to users' database, for China, it's a big challenge on our information security.

"China has set up an office to study cyber security and information technology in order to create our own operating system that solves the problems we're concerned with."

The news report suggests that the security "challenge" posed by Windows 8 is why "many countries such as Russia and Germany" are using domestic operating systems in their government offices.

Both countries have made moves to open source operating systems within their government agencies.

"China is also following suit," said a CCTV reporter in the news segment.

The CCTV report comes only hours after Chinese state media outlets, China Daily and the People's Daily, ran an article warning that US-based technology organisations, including Google, Apple, and Microsoft could become "cybersecurity threats" for the country.

China's suspicion of US hardware and software has been building since documents leaked last year by US whistleblower, Edward Snowden, revealed the extent of the US National Security Agency's Prism surveillance data mining operation.

Since then, cyber-espionage accusations have flown between the two countries, with the US government charging five men last month, alleging that the Chinese military operatives had hacked into US companies for trade secrets.

Meanwhile, last week, rumours emerged that the People's Bank of China and other government agencies were reviewing whether the country's commercial banks' use of high-end IBM servers compromised China's financial security, and were urging the banks to remove the servers and replace them with locally-manufactured and maintain equipment.

In May, it was reported that the Chinese government had ordered a ban on the use of Windows 8 in all new government computers, and had suspended co-operation with the US on cyber security issues.

Topics: Security, Microsoft, China, Windows 8


Leon covers enterprise technology and start-ups from ZDNet's Sydney newsroom.

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  • Build their own pcs and OSs!

    China should just build their own computers and their own operating systems, like Linux that's open source.
    Pollo Pazzo
    • They do.

      After all, they build all of the ones sent to the US...
      • yep

        Makes it easier for them to spy on the US that way.
  • Just so crazy...

    Just so crazy how the country with the most widely pirated software offenders are complaining about security threats.....
  • agenices

    agenices --> agencies
  • Chinese state media labels Windows 8 a 'potential threat'

    I am running Microsoft Windows 8 and I don't feel threatened. The chinese government is just upset that they can't put backdoors into Microsoft Windows so they opted for open source where they can do it themselves.
    • Who cares what you "feel".

      Reality is different.
      • A lot of people

        All of my fans do.
      • "Reality is different."

        Is this something you also "feel", or do you have data to back your assertion?
    • Got it Right

      Not sure about feelings, but I totally agree China is pissed because they will have waste time to crack Windows 8 so they can use it for spying. They did the same by coming up with their own mobile phone OS.
    • yes but your a shill

      You've yet to display a valid opinion on here since your only criteria for an opinion is which company.

      Lovecrock criteria for an opinion expressed as Perl code for your amusement.

      If ($subject =~ m|Microsoft|)
      $opinion = 'awsome';
      $opinion = 'rubbish!';
      $shillpay++ if $opinion;
      • sorry.. should be you're a shill.

        Important to be concise in these things.
      • Your perl script is wrong

      • Would you pay him?

        John L. Ries
    • They Make All PC Hardware Numpty

      And write plenty of drivers
      Alan Smithie
    • Already in there

      Using win 8 and don't feel threatened? You should know that Windows already has back doors built into the OS for their own snooping and for the NSA, that's old news (phone home). I also read over a year ago that MS provided (or sold) China with the source code for Windows, which I thought was pretty silly of them. Add the fact that Windows is and always has been easy to hack, you should be worried unless you just don't care about your privacy.
      The only way open source could be affected is if China coded their own distribution and then you install it.
      • Back door?

        Many keep repeating a back door into the OS, but never can prove or provide the codes for that back door. There isn't one. What China is worry is that, thanks to Edward Snowden, they know the US government can request from all of the US software company any data and I quote "The US has a law that requires any entities that have this data to voluntarily report to the government. So, the data might be a good way to monitor other countries."

        The only thing they forgot is that the US government can request data from XP as well from Windows 8. I believe this is an excuse. The real issue is they do not know the code for Windows 8. They cannot break it. They cannot make pirate copy for themselves without paying a US company (Microsoft) as they did with Windows XP. They have been working for years in making their own version of Linux and still it does not work the way they want and their people don't want it either.
      • The only way open source could be affected is if China coded their own.."

        Right,... because all open source software is immediately audited by security experts. /s

        I'd venture a guess that neither you, nor any of your colleagues have ever read past the statement that a software package was 'open source', and then immediately decided someone else must have taken time to vet the code. You're in for a rude awakening if that is the case.
      • No back door needed

        Chinese government already mentioned that Microsoft gave them source code before. I would think US government also get it as well. If they have the source code, they would able to find holes inside. If they made a backdoor and gave the source code away, don't you think the Chinese government will find the backdoor and block it? Then what's the point to make a backdoor?