China Planted Mystery Devices On Cranes Used In US Ports, Could Seize Control Remotely: Congressional Letter – Andrew Thornebrooke 3/8/24


Top Republicans from multiple House committees are sounding the alarm on a series of mysterious devices that appear to have been implanted into container cranes used throughout the U.S. port system by China.

The lawmakers say that numerous modems with no known function were uncovered from ship-to-shore (STS) cranes, which are used to unload cargo at the nation’s largest ports.

All of the cranes in question were manufactured by Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries (ZPMC), a subsidiary of the state-owned China Communications Construction Co.

Relatedly, the lawmakers noted that ZPMC’s manufacturing facility is located adjacent to China’s most advanced ship-making facility, where the regime builds its aircraft carriers and houses advanced intelligence capabilities.

In a letter (pdf) addressed to the president and chairman of ZPMC, the lawmakers demand to know the purpose of the cellular modems discovered on crane components and in a U.S. seaport’s server room that houses firewall and networking equipment.

These components do not contribute to the operation of the STS cranes or maritime infrastructure and are not part of any existing contract between ZPMC and the receiving U.S. maritime port,” the letter said.

“The Committees have serious concerns that this proximity to the [Chinese military’s] main shipyard provides malicious CCP [Chinese Communist Party] entities, including its intelligence agencies and security services, with ample opportunity to modify U.S.-bound maritime equipment, exploit it to malfunction, or otherwise facilitate cyber espionage thereby compromising U.S. maritime critical infrastructure.”

U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. John Vann, who leads the Coast Guard’s Cyber Command, told reporters last month that there were over 200 China-manufactured cranes operating across U.S. ports and regulated facilities.

At that time, Coast Guard cyber protection teams had assessed the cybersecurity or hunted for threats on 92 of those cranes, he said.

The discovery comes amid an ongoing congressional investigation into the operation of cranes manufactured in China and operating at U.S. ports.

Though the investigation is still ongoing, the committees identified serious concerns regarding ZPMC’s relationship with the CCP, particularly given the recent discovery of Chinese malware on vital infrastructure related to the port system.

As part of another cybersecurity investigation, some of the modems in question were also found to have active connections to the operational components of the STS cranes, suggesting they could be remotely controlled by a device no one previously knew was there….

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