Lenovo is either the world's biggest or second-biggest PC manufacturer, depending on who you ask (the other potential is HP), and certainly one of the best. But according to the Australian Financial Review (AFR), they've been banned by spy agencies around the world, from the U.S. to the U.K. to Australia, because of concerns about their hackability--and where those hacks might be coming from. Lenovo, you see, is a Chinese company, and was originally created by a wing of the Chinese government.
After Lenovo acquired IBM's PC arm in 2005, it started churning out some of the best computers on the market. Its Thinkpad line became the PC of choice for many Windows users; they totally eschewed aesthetic appeal in favor of hyper-functional, thin, and durable designs. Lately Lenovo's been stepping up its game in the looks department, and its Yoga line is one of the best-reviewed Windows 8 laptop lines out there. The Economist has a great profile of the company, if you're curious. But the main thing to know is that Lenovo was created by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a governmental organization, and still retains a sizable share of Lenovo. And spy agencies are scared of China.
So the spy agencies are concerned about its lineage. Most computer hacks (including smartphones) that we cover are software hacks, affecting individual programs, services, or entire operating systems. The NSA, in particular, already has enforced limits on what Windows machines operating on classified networks can do. But the spy agencies, including the NSA and MI6, aren't blocking all Windows machines. Instead they're afraid of hardware exploits inserted into the production line by one specific manufacturer. Says AFR:
These hardware hacks, which may include so-called hardware trojans (also known as "malicious circuits), could include all kinds of things, though AFR's sources don't specify exactly what the spy agencies are afraid of. Some hardware trojans are designed to be less reliable, causing hardware failures down the road. Some include small antennae to transmit data to an outside source.
The ban has apparently been in effect for years at some of these agencies, if only for the classified networks. One curious twist to this story is that, if we're afraid of hardware from a Chinese company, we should probably be afraid of, um, all gadgets. Pretty much every major tech company manufactures in China, from Apple to Samsung to Microsoft, and though some companies (like Google) are trying to manufacture in the States, the vast majority of electronics still comes from Chinese factories. Are they any more trustworthy than Lenovo? Who knows?
Update: In a very brief statement posted to their website, the Australian Department of Defence (sic) called the Australian Financial Report story "factually incorrect" and stated "There is no Department of Defence ban on the Lenovo Company or their computer products; either for classified or unclassified systems." No other defense department has responded.
This is retarded. If you are afraid of being hacked, start manufacturing your own devices. Or maybe, test them when you purchase them! Interesting enough, no government is worried about US made technology? Following that logic, the US government could have been working together with major manufacturers, to put physical backdoors to hardware sold to any country ally or foe, to make sure US propaganda and technology will always lead, as they can spy and steal new technology easily.
The next 20-30 years will be about privacy. How much governments are influencing companies, how can we trust them, how much faith should we put to banks and major corporations. Who handles Big Data, how secure is the Cloud?
The world is spinning out of control, these first world problems are what we are worried about recently. While the global warming is extremely real and fast, in 50 years humanity's greatest treasure will be clean water, millions could die from starvation while we throw out more food than the need of the whole planet.
Do you really think, Lenovo would risk the global reputation with such a stupid move, like hardware hacks? They want to have global market share not become the next Nokia. These articles are usually created and hyped by the US media and major corporations, as any negative hype regarding a non-US made product is driving millions of easily frightened people to buy American brands.
The only issue is, American brands are manufactured in Bangladesh, India, China - hey Apple! - Pakistan, Nigeria, Mexico...
Articles like this are not about the security, it's about profit.
Yes the government and military should have its own communication protocols and devices being off the commercial mainstream market devices. Once upon a time prior to the internet this was the norm, then some odd ball government mandates said let’s use COTS to save money as well jump on the internet bang wagon and that’s when all the shi# broke loose on hacking government and a like.
Another problem is for many who work with clearances now adays stopped really understanding the proper use of 'clearerance and need to know'. Many assume if they have clearance they can do or go where ever that clearnce allows with no regards to having a 'need to know' for that task.
Its all a mess in my opinion, currently broken. To many people are going places or doing things that is outside of their job description....
Wonder07/29/13 at 2:18 pm
The current politics since 9/11 anti terrorist laws carefully covered their as#es, by creating laws first saying its ok to ease drop on private citizens prior to NSA listen to all. This is why politically they can say the NSA has found 51 terrorist plots and not abuse one person on privacy, since in fact they change the laws prior to all the snooping. Its sort of like creaing a law that says, "I am correct in what I am doing and if you believe I am wrong, please refer to the begining of this sentence".
NSA is killing the 4th Admentment of the Constituion, if you look at it with the eyes of prior of 9/11 and the rights for the US citizens.
NSA is the worse hack on the USA people of ALL time and the world too, for that manner. Shoot! They have a 20 billion dollar a year budget, not including the cost to build the NEW state of the art NSA listen site in Utah....
Tristan. I agree that Francisco`s stori is surprising, on monday I got a new Saab 99 Turbo since getting a cheque for $9386 this past 5 weeks and more than ten-grand lass month. it's definitly the most financialy rewarding Ive ever had. I actually started 10-months ago and pretty much immediately startad making over $85 per-hr. I work through this website, ..............zee44.com
I am pretty certain that these hardware Trojans exist on ALL computers...not just those made by the Chinese.
I am sure a company such as Go-Ogle is doing the same thing with its computers. Go-Ogle has a history of spying on its customers...and for some reason, we Americans still love everything that Go-Ogle does.
Go-Ogle has already proven that they are willing to blacklist people who THEY feel are not good citizens. If they are monitoring your web activity and they don't like what they see, they might just decide to blacklist you too.
It's all about Google Page Rank...NOT how old information is.
The more inbound links a website has, the higher it will appear in the Go-Ogle search results, regardless of whether it is slander or not. Go-Ogle won't do a thing about it even though it would take them only a day to add the necessary programming code to prevent slander from ranking high in their search results.
If you know how to manipulate Google Page rank, you can blacklist anyone. And Go-Ogle has refused to take steps to correct this sort of blacklisting.
This is a very valid fear. I used to work at a large computer company and know a bit about them. One could produce a suspicious design pretty easily in hardware.
It's better put a focus on the marketing rather than this cause the amount of profit google had collected surpases the technologies used by spies.
So it's all about ads. And this story surely will generated more revenue.
Nice story though, keep it up.
Reagan should have bombed the Russian commies when he could have. Chinese aren't Russians. Chinese value their families, instead of the electronic world.