Risk
5/14/2009
05:34 PM
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Twitter
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

U.S. Defense Department Official Charged With Espionage

A civilian employee at the Pentagon has been charged with conspiring to provide classified information to an agent with ties to the People's Republic of China.

In an expansion of an espionage investigation disclosed last year, a Defense Department official has been charged with conspiring to provide classified information to an agent with ties to the People's Republic of China (PRC).

The accused, James Wilbur Fondren Jr., 62, was a civilian employee at the Pentagon and the deputy director of the Washington Liaison Office of the U.S. Pacific Command. He retired from active duty in the U.S. Air Force as a lieutenant colonel in 1996. He has been on administrative leave since February 2008, when the Justice Department announced the arrests of several individuals for stealing military aerospace secrets and sending them to China.

One of the individuals arrested last year was Tai Shen Kuo, a furniture businessman and a naturalized U.S. citizen. Another was former Defense Department employee Gregg William Bergersen.

In March 2008, Bergersen pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide U.S. defense information to China and was later sentenced to almost five years in prison.

In May 2008, Kuo pleaded guilty to similar charges. He subsequently was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison. Kuo was a close associate of Fondren's and was a guest at Fondren's house at the time of his arrest. Fondren allegedly believed Kuo to have ties with officials in Taiwan rather than with the PRC.

The FBI affidavit in Kuo's case describes a sweeping surveillance operation directed at Kuo. In addition to physical surveillance, the FBI monitored his e-mail accounts at Bellsouth.net, Gmail, and Hotmail, as well as his telephone communications. The agency also covertly copied the hard drive on Kuo's laptop and placed audiovisual surveillance equipment in a car Kuo rented.

The FBI affidavit filed as part of the case against Fondren suggests that the agency's eavesdropping operation helped incriminate Fondren as well as Kuo. It includes transcripts of several conversations between Fondren and Kuo about the transfer of classified information that allegedly occurred in Fondren's Annandale, Va., home.

Dana J. Boente, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, called the allegations in the Fondren case "troubling" and said, "The U.S. government places considerable trust in those given access to classified information, and we are committed to prosecuting those who abuse that trust."

Rick Howard, director of security intelligence at VeriSign iDefense, said that this kind of espionage goes on all the time. "All governments have espionage operations where they're trying to turn people to give them inside information," he said.

It's noteworthy, he said, that this isn't cyberespionage. "It's traditional spy-vs.-spy stuff," he said.

Howard said that while every organization that deals with sensitive information has procedures to protect that information, "it's not too hard to defeat those things if you're determined."

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2001-1594
Published: 2015-08-04
GE Healthcare eNTEGRA P&R has a password of (1) entegra for the entegra user, (2) passme for the super user of the Polestar/Polestar-i Starlink 4 upgrade, (3) 0 for the entegra user of the Codonics printer FTP service, (4) eNTEGRA for the eNTEGRA P&R user account, (5) insite for the WinVNC Login, an...

CVE-2002-2445
Published: 2015-08-04
GE Healthcare Millennium MG, NC, and MyoSIGHT has a default password of (1) root.genie for the root user, (2) "service." for the service user, (3) admin.genie for the admin user, (4) reboot for the reboot user, and (5) shutdown for the shutdwon user, which has unspecified impact and attack vectors.

CVE-2002-2446
Published: 2015-08-04
GE Healthcare Millennium MG, NC, and MyoSIGHT has a password of insite.genieacq for the insite account that cannot be changed without disabling product functionality for remote InSite support, which has unspecified impact and attack vectors.

CVE-2003-1603
Published: 2015-08-04
GE Healthcare Discovery VH has a default password of (1) interfile for the ftpclient user of the Interfile server or (2) "2" for the LOCAL user of the FTP server for the Codonics printer, which has unspecified impact and attack vectors.

CVE-2004-2777
Published: 2015-08-04
GE Healthcare Centricity Image Vault 3.x has a password of (1) gemnet for the administrator account, (2) webadmin for the webadmin administrator account of the ASACA DVD library, (3) an empty value for the gemsservice account of the Ultrasound Database, and possibly (4) gemnet2002 for the gemnet2002...

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
What’s the future of the venerable firewall? We’ve invited two security industry leaders to make their case: Join us and bring your questions and opinions!