China warns of geographic info data breaches, affecting transport, military

China said it found foreign geographic information software could be compromising confidential and sensitive data in key sectors including its military, and warned security departments to conduct in-depth checks to stem any further breaches.

The Ministry of State Security said an extensive investigation found overseas geographic information system software was being used to collect data – some involving state secrets – “posing a serious threat to China’s national security.”

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The government revealed the threat in an article on its WeChat public account on Monday but did not disclose any information on entities blamed for accessing data or identify specific Chinese firms that were affected or targeted.

China said culprits are using software to collect user data without restrictions, deliberately putting in pre-built “backdoors” in software to allow for cyberattacks and data theft.

The government said by stealing high-precision geographic information data, three-dimensional geomorphological mapping of specific areas in its transportation, energy, military and other important fields, could be open to threats.

China has been taking increasing measures to protect its national security and prevent information leaks that could damage industries and hurt its economy.

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The government said departments are to carry out investigations of geographic information data security risks, “and rectify and promptly eliminate” any threats. Security agencies are also to establish and improve on a collaborative plan for data security protection to safeguard important national data, it added.

As technology evolves, the government said geographic information can be used as a strategic data resource and in production for areas such as agriculture, energy, automated vehicles, and express online shopping and food deliveries.

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