Executive Branch

Did China Copy U.S. Commerce Secretary's Laptop Computer?

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A U.S. investigation is under way to determine whether China secretly copied a top American official’s government laptop computer during a trip late last year, subsequently using the information in attempts to hack into Commerce Department computers.

“Surreptitious copying is believed to have occurred when a laptop was left unattended during (Commerce Secretary Carlos) Gutierrez’s trip to Beijing for trade talks in December,” reports the Associated Press.

The article says “widespread computer intrusions blamed on China” have been a problem at the Pentagon and the State Department, as well as the Commerce Department, since 2006. It isn’t clear, though, whether the possible copying of Gutierrez’s laptop had anything to do with these problems.

It also isn’t clear whether taking a government laptop abroad and leaving it unattended, as Gutierrez reportedly did, violates department rules, the news agency says. However, experts suggest taking precautions abroad with both computers and cell phones (throwaway phones are recommended).

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