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‘Worrisome’ Devices Discovered on Chinese-Made Cranes in Use in US: Report

Amid rising concerns that Chinese-made giant cargo cranes found at U.S. ports could be a security concern are new reports that communications devices have been found within the mammoth cranes.

A report in The Wall Street Journal, citing congressional aides and documents, said cellular modems have been found that could be remotely accessed.

The finding is potentially serious, because ZPMC, a China-based manufacturer, has made about 80 percent of the cranes that unload ships at U.S. ports.

China “is looking for every opportunity to collect valuable intelligence and position themselves to exploit vulnerabilities by systematically burrowing into America’s critical infrastructure, including in the maritime sector,” Republican Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said.

“The United States has clearly overlooked this threat for far too long,” he said, adding that the communications components “are just one example of the worrisome findings in our investigation.”

Green elaborated in a statement to CNN, saying that the probe from his committee and the House Select Committee on China “found vulnerabilities in cranes at U.S. ports that could allow the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] to not only undercut trade competitors through espionage, but disrupt supply chains and the movement of cargo, devastating our nation’s economy.”

“Without a swift sea-change, we will continue to gift the CCP with an easy means of infiltrating our critical infrastructure on their quest for global dominance,” he said.

The Journal report said one U.S. port discovered more than a dozen cellular modems, while at another port a modem was in the port’s server room.

The report said that the port employees did not know why the modems were installed, because they were not requested.

Liu Pengyu, a spokesman at the Chinese embassy in Washington, called claims the modems could be a threat “entirely paranoia” and those making them were “abusing national power to obstruct normal economic and trade cooperation,” the Journal reported.

Others said concern is warranted.

“We have found, I would say, openings, vulnerabilities, that are there by design,” Rear Adm. John Vann, the head of the Coast Guard’s cyber command, said during congressional testimony last week.

However, Vann said, “What we have not found is instances … of malware or a trojan horse type software.”

The American Association of Port Authorities provided The Western Journal with a statement on the matter on Friday.

“Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Vann recently testified under oath that there have been no known security breaches involving port equipment,” AAPA President and CEO Cary Davis said. “Our ports proactively work with the U.S. Coast Guard, other federal law enforcement, and private sector experts to mitigate risks through inspections and defensive measures. This previous incident is actually a positive case study in cyber defense and domain awareness.”

Concerns about the cranes began during the Trump administration, according to a March 2023 report by The Wall Street Journal.

Sean Plankey, a former cybersecurity official who was involved in the National Security Council’s discussions, said the debate was around the question: “Where would someone attack first and how would they do it?”

Officials believed that if China could control cargo cranes, China could paralyze ports without a shot fired.

“It wouldn’t be hard for an attacker to disable one sensor on a crane and prevent the crane from moving,” Chris Wolski, who formerly ran cybersecurity for the port of Houston, said. “These systems aren’t designed for security, they are designed for operations.”

The report said that a 2021 Defense Intelligence Agency assessment found that China could potentially limit traffic in ports, or learn what kinds of military equipment was moving through ports.

“DIA’s analytic efforts assist the U.S. military in anticipating and mitigating threats to global mobility, which relies in part on commercial transportation and shipping,” DIA spokesman Lt. Col. Dean Carter said.

READ 14 COMMENTS
  • USA Strong says:

    We could and should be building these cranes in America but corporations are going for cheap and sell out our workers. Don’t by from China, we have made that communist country rich and now they are using their wealth against us.

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