Leaked documents reveal Chinese cyber espionage methods

The leak of documents provides unprecedented access to the inner workings of Chinese intelligence operations. Also, the motivations of the individuals involved remain to be defined.

I-Soon Company

A series of more than 500 documents have been leaked from I-Soon, a Chinese IT services company based in Shanghai, but also with several subsidiaries in various provinces. Paul Caron, director of the “Intelligence, Anticipation and Influence Strategies” area at IRSEM and co-author of L.Chinese influence operationsPublished by Editions des Équateurs, this looks at the nature of society: “She works mainly for the Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of Public Security, so for the Chinese intelligence services, but not necessarily for the central directorates. We have seen that principals are mainly provincial or even local offices. So her operations are very decentralized. , which corresponds to what we already know about the operation of Chinese services in general. The company, primarily, employs 72 people. It was founded by a fairly famous ex-hacker, Wu Haibo, who is one of the so-called red hackers. A medium-sized company, but very active”.

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What the documents show

The leak highlights I-Soon’s activities in China and abroad, but not exclusively, as Paul Charon explains: “These documents show that these companies form state units, particularly of the Ministry of Public Security. This tells us about the functioning of this ecosystem, which is apparently made up of many small companies of this type. We also see links between this ecosystem of computer hackers working for universities and the state. That is to say, they recruit from universities, with whom they have common projects and where they teach and train students in Computer Science Masters. We have already been able to establish for a long time that many universities maintain privileged links either with the Chinese security apparatus or with the army or the Ministry of State Security..

However, this leak reveals a good number of inefficiencies in this system: “Whatever the field of espionage, the Chinese have rather reached a level that is similar to what we find in the best Western countries or in Russia. At the same time, there is a level of organizational dysfunction that is every bit as shocking, which this powerful With decentralization, with conflict of interests, comes the importance of political issues.

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