In the thick of trade tensions between the US and China, Chinese officials have decided to develop a custom operating system (OS) that will replace Windows on computers used by the Chinese military to avoid hacking risks.
The decision, while not been made official through the government’s normal press channels, was reported this month by Canada-based military magazine Kanwa Asian Defence that said that Chinese military officials would not jump from Windows to Linux but instead develop a custom OS, ZDNet reported on Tuesday.
Owing to the Snowden, Shadow Brokers and Vault7 leak cases, China fears the hefty arsenal of hacking tools which are with the US and could get into anything from smart TVs to Linux servers and from routers to common desktop operating systems such as Windows and Mac.
The Chinese government plans to adopt a “security by obscurity” approach and run a custom OS that would make it harder for foreign threats — mainly the US — to spy on Chinese military operations.
The task of developing the new OS would fall to a new “Internet Security Information Leadership Group” that would answer directly to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the report said.
In the late 90s, North Korea also developed a custom operating system for use inside the country, called “Red Star” OS, which is still alive, but it never became the “only” official OS for government agencies that continued to use Windows, Mac and Linux in parallel.
China’s decision comes after US President Donald Trump decided to scrutinize trade relations between the two countries due to security concerns.
On May 15, Trump effectively banned Chinese tech major Huawei with a national security order following which Qualcomm, along with Google, Microsoft, Intel and ARM, put restrictions on businesses with Huawei.