back to article Britain warns businesses of Chinese 'honey trap'

Britain's MI5 security service has accused the Chinese government of engaging in an unusually wide-ranging campaign to breach UK business computer networks, in some cases exploiting sexual relationships to pressure individuals to cooperate. The so-called "honey trap" methods were aimed at business executives at trade shows and …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    Well, at least it isn't the bugs in IE6 that cause industrial secrets to be stolen. Sayeth the government.

    Mine's the trenchcoat with the newspaper with eyeholes in the pocket.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Nothing new here really...

    What is surprising is that the western nations have allowed their manufacturing-base to be moved to countries such as China, an an old-school communist government with a veneer of business-friendly topsoil on it. I China to behave exactly as they have.

    1. Tom 35

      Grab the cash and run...

      Execs outsource everything to china or some other place with slave labour, make a big wad of cash in bonuses, and then dump their options before the company becomes an unwanted middle man when the Chinese start selling direct and your company and joins the TV manufacturers in the dust bin. Then onto the next company, repeat. Some of this money makes it way to people in government who might be thinking this is a bad idea in the long run.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Not suprising really..

      Just a symptom of rampant greed - the hallmark of unregulated casino capitalism and chronic short termism that favours instant gain over long term sustainability.

      This kind of mentality has always existed - although post globalisation the exploitation has shifted from the impoverished working classes at home to offshore export processing zones.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Captains of Industry

    No more more morals than the Captain of our football team?

  4. Anonymous Coward

    To the Chinese goverment

    I am working on a top secret project, please send nice girl!

  5. Graham Marsden

    "lavish hospitality and flattery,"

    Mine's the one with "I am a british businessman working with senstive commercial secrets" on the back...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One has to wonder.....

    How many rootkits are in Chinese manufacturer hard drives and other trojans in things such as chip and pin machines produced in China. Recall the chip and pin machines produced in China ,sent to UK Supermarkets year or s so ago that sent all card info to phone number in Pakistan. The list goes on....

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I forsee

    The chinese govenment getting access to the homework and holiday photos of the children of the execs of the UKs largest companys as they give the crap to them to play with when they get home.

  8. Martin Usher


    Do you get the feeling that MI5 is stuck in a vintage James Bond movie? (Which they'll be watching on their (Chinese made) TV set from a (Chinese made) DVD player.

    I wonder what wondrous technology they could be seeking? How to make dodgy financial products, perhaps?

  9. Not Terry Wogan
    Thumb Up

    Hey kids!

    Sick of hearing about the fundamentalist Muslim terror threat? Wish there was something new to keep you scared?

    Here's our all-new, all-exciting Cold War with the Chinese! They eat babies, y'know.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    getting pretty sick of hearing about Chinese hackers

    omg wtf bbq chinese hackers wow I hope they don't hack into my desk fan and make it spin the wrong way, I could be mildly inconvenienced for seconds.

    1. set up cyber security forces

    2. get a few dozen top companies to simultaneously admit to being hacked by the Chinese. (nobody will question how suspicious that is because nobody cares)

    3. ?

    4. profit

  11. Nebulo

    Sexual relationships and illegal activities?

    Well, that takes care of sex and drugs ... is there no warning against rock'n'roll?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Calm down, everyone

    Just remember, when on business trips in China, don't have sex with any truck drivers who claim to be Taoist priests. I thought you all saw the memo last week.

  13. Mark Eaton-Park

    I heard ....

    I head the Chinese had given London Underground a free train carriages, clearly to scoop up the data the Government agencies forget.

  14. Mark Eaton-Park

    But seriusly

    These are the sorts of things that the west were doing for many years during the "cold war", typical Chinese approach copy the West's ideas but do it cheaper.

  15. Pete 8

    So lame

    they dont L337 5p34K, they dont swear properly, and they dont use nearly enough pr0n.

    Should we have a red-crescent icon with star thingies?

    Web 2.0 - chinas way. Dont speak unless you want your organs sold.

  16. A.A.Hamilton

    New employee value assessment procedure

    Blimey, I've made planty of trips to China and nobody ever offered me a camera or USB memory stick. Does that mean I'm of no value ? (Don't answer that). However, there's the germ (!) of something here for HR's employee-value assessment procedures: " your China-trip expense claim should include the number of cameras, memory sticks and 'other' you received'

  17. TeeCee Gold badge


    "Honey trap" and "lavish hospitality and flattery".

    Right then. I'm just going to get a T-Shirt printed with "I am an important western executive" on it* and then I'm off to a Chinese trade show.

    *Working on the assumption that the reason they reckon we can't tell the difference between the real thing and a cheap knock-off is that they can't.

  18. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    So who's next?

    I find the timing of this "leak" entertaining. Who said the "special relationship" between US and UK no longer exists?

    Here is a simple question: did any of you find out what the new iPaddle (that's the pr0n version) looked like before Cupertino gave the OK? Have you seen any copies yet? Explain to me how Google couldn't manage to keep its secrets in ONE BUILDING which the Apple production is spread over various factories?

    As for espionage, sure. It happens everywhere in the world. Case in point: Menwith Hill.

    I cannot blame the Chinese for spying, AFAIK they have been banned from having fancy toys for quite some time so they have some catching up to do before they can ruin the world economy in a similar spectacular fashion. Do I agree with it? No, not at all, and they won't manage with me, a fact I'm happy to demonstrate with any lovely they care to send my way (if you didn't see that coming you should watch less TV).

    However, I cannot help noticing a trend with UK and US: they ALWAYS have problems with someone, There's always someone ELSE doing evil things. Funny that. Care to guess who will the Next Evil Government Capable Of Diverting Attention From Domestic Problems Like Expenses And Healthcare?

    BTW, guide to UK security classifications:

    Restricted - don't tell your parents/use for information you need in the press

    Secret - don't tell your wife

    Top Secret - send on unencrypted CDs through mail, leave on trains or lose the Chinese virus infested USB stick it's on, if you're a consultant

    Strap level - you need a jock for that.

    This message is protectively marked "UB" (Utter B*llocks). Handle with care. Wear gloves. And a scarve. You may leave off the woolly hat^, though.

  19. Danny 14
    Thumb Up

    sounds like a good holiday

    I wonder if you need to say the right things at customs. "yes im working with a new exclusive plastic in the UK. I wouldnt want anyone to steal the secrets!" then you get free USB sticks (for my linux machines) and free cameras (for my MAC). Not to mention girly company.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    I know the name of the Chinese girls involved

    ...and one of them is "Sum Yung Ho".

  21. John A Fotheringham

    Old advice

    Many years ago as a student I worked briefly at a government science lab.

    As part of the induction we had a security lecture where it was made clear to us that if we ever went to science conferences in moscow (and oddly this did happen, just not to me), then Russia would send nubile agents to seduce us.

    The official advice we were given was to lie back and enjoy it, but to lodge an official complaint the next morning. Seems "lie back and think of England" was government policy back in the late 70's.

    I imagine it's the same today.

  22. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Where do we sign up?

    I too am open to having the Chinese exploit a sexual relationship to pressure (press?) me to cooperate, if they are going to provide the sexual relationship :-)

    Not seriously... if they do such things, it is probably dreadful exploitation of people on their side, and just abrout as shabby on mine. So no.

    Role-playing at home as the Western Businessman and the Secret Chinese Agent sounds fun, though.

    And I can always do with more memory sticks.

  23. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Seems a bit pointless

    They design and manufacture most of what we buy from them anyway. Seems to me that we're getting the better side of the bargain. All they get is half-arsed out of date design and manufacture technology we get sex.

  24. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    Money and power games...

    Throughout history every time business and/or political power bases form with money and power, there has been spying against them, and this has happened in every country. Industrial espionage has been going on for many hundreds of years. Spying in general has been going on for well over a thousand years. Plus using honey traps is as old as spying itself.

    So more attempts at Industrial Espionage, isn't what I find interesting about this news. After all it happens all the time. But what is really starting to get my attention, and I'm starting to find very interesting, is that we are all getting fed a considerable increase in rhetoric against China from particularly the US and the UK, over the past month. The US and the UK knows full well that Industrial Espionage happens all the time (they do it as well, as does every other major country), so none of this is at all surprising in any way to anyone in politics or big business. Therefore something else has to be behind their words and as usual, it turns out its a case of “follow the money”, as they say.

    The considerable increase in rhetoric against China is very interesting when combined with the fact we are this year moving out of worldwide recession. Businesses worldwide are therefore looking to grow this year. Many are looking to make new deals and business alliances around the world. Therefore the people initiating this rhetoric are simply attempting to bias as many people as they can away from dealing with China, by using FUD tactics against China. The people behind this rhetoric simply don't want people to do deals with China, as that would strength China's power. Instead they want people to do deals with their countries, to strengthen and enrich their countries. Its simply another fear story to manipulate as many people as possible, to bias as many people as possible against putting their money into China. (After all China are already growing ever more powerful what with their growing manufacturing base etc..)

    Whats behind this move against China is simply another example of Machiavellian cunning and duplicity, that is so common when dealing with predominantly Narcissist politicians and high up Narcissist business people. Their behavior is literally Machiavellian, with endless cunning and duplicity to manipulate others. After all everyone can be manipulated, when the people doing the manipulating don't keep to the truth and instead spread lies and misinformation and half truths used to bias peoples behavior in their favor, for their own gain. The concept of Machiavellianism has after all be going on for 500 years, so its well recognized throughout history, although these days psychologists would label such behavior more specifically as NPD as in Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The key point being how Narcissists are so self centered and manipulative around their own greedy self interest. Which explains whats behind this world sized chess game of rhetoric against China.

    Its simply another game of money and power and all the manipulating that goes on around money and power. This rhetoric is effectively acting like a world wide PR campaign with the core message of don't trust China to do business with them, instead do business with us. (The fact is, trusting anyone in business is foolhardy. Even though businesses like to talk of trust, if it were ever really about trust, then we wouldn't need contracts, but clearly we very much do need contracts. So business isn't about trust even though they want us all to think they are trustworthy. They are some of the last people we should trust, which is probably why they feel they have to work at trying to convince us they are trustworthy!

    Frankly I wouldn't trust any of them, (none of them are any better than any of the others), but that doesn't stop me being interested in doing business with any of them. If you go into any deal knowing you are dealing with Machiavellian people, then its a lot easier to do business with any of them. Just take whatever any of them say "with a pinch of salt" as they say, because while they like to talk of trust, deals to them are really just about manipulating people into gaining a better negotiating position to gain more money and power. Its been played that way throughout history. Spying is all part of that game. After all, knowledge is power. Therefore knowledge on an opponent gives more power against them. Hence why we continue to suffer Industrial Espionage. Spying is all part of the rich and powerful's greedy power games and its been that way throughout history. :(

    1. moonface
      Black Helicopters

      Follow the money

      This reminds me of the media hysteria back in early 2001 of the Hainan Island incident, the missle testing furore and all that media speculatation of the US entering into a war should the Chinese ever invade Taiwan. This then took a back seat after 911 and the news reports just dried up.

      Interestingly, I see arms sales to Taiwan are once again in the news. Obviously, the Chinese are the bad guys in all this. I mean the US have the lovely peaceful Dalai Lama on their side.

      Cynical thoughts of an arms dealer "With not so many weapons being deployed in the Middle East these days, I wonder if those fearful Taiwanese might be interested in purchasing some."

  25. The First Dave

    Details please...

    Which trade shows?

    At least give us an idea of what location and what industry!

  26. Nick Sargeant

    When I was in Lithuania ..

    I found that having a girl provided for the night was just part of doing business there. Of course being a geek, I didn't find out until the morning I was to fly home again.

    Shame our brains are in our heads, and not in our balls sometimes.

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