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Several Western Govts. Ban Lenovo Equipment From Sensitive Networks

timothy posted about a year ago | from the this-far-and-no-farther dept.

China 410

renai42 writes "If you've been in the IT industry for a while, you'll know that Lenovo's ThinkPad brand has a strong reputation with large organisations for quality, dating back to the brand's pre-2005 ownership by IBM. However, all that may be set to change with the news that the defence agencies of key Western governments such as Australia, the US, Britain, Canada and New Zealand have banned Lenovo gear from being used in sensitive areas, because of concerns that the Chinese vendor has been leaving back doors in its devices for the Chinese Government. No evidence has yet been presented to back the claims, but Lenovo remains locked out of sensitive areas of these governments. Is it fearmongering? Or is there some legitimate basis for the ban?"

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Their loss (5, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#44410983)

Thinkpads are very popular with people who need to do their own maintenance. They use them on the ISS for that very reason. Every part is replaceable and you can download a full service manual with excellent step-by-step illustrated instructions.

Sounds like fear of the boogyman and a bit of racism are really going to hurt the US in the long run.

Re:Their loss (5, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#44411009)

Is it racism to be concerned that our military is using computer parts that can't (or won't) be produced at home?

If we had to go to "total war" tomorrow like we had to after Pearl Harbor I think we would be in pretty big trouble if our enemy was from the east and all of our sudden our constant shipping was gone. It we Americans are so damn expensive and corporations are at their height of greed and power we've pretty much forgotten how do that manufacturing.

Re:Their loss (4, Insightful)

stevegee58 (1179505) | about a year ago | (#44411089)

Anyone says anything bad about China/Chinese and some PC do-gooder brings up race.
It isn't about race, it's about the proven track record of a government tainting their country's products with viruses, trojans and backdoors.

Re:Their loss (5, Insightful)

moronoxyd (1000371) | about a year ago | (#44411117)

Proven track record?
Please enlighten me and give me links to that proof of backdoors. (That's what this is about, not virii or trojans.)

All I heard on this matter are accusations without any proof.
On the other hand, we KNOW that the US is spying on everybody...

Re:Their loss (1, Informative)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#44411183)

Operaration Aurora a few years back. Rackspace, Yahoo, Symantec, Google... all confirmed they were under Chinese attack. I'd say that's proof many companies confirming the accusation. Another one was Ghostnet the analysis came out of Cambridge.

Re:Their loss (5, Insightful)

moronoxyd (1000371) | about a year ago | (#44411305)

You didn't really read my comment, did you?
I was explicitly asking for proof of backdoors, not attacks over the internet with trojans.

I don't doubt that the Chinese government is behind some cyber attacks. Just like the US government and/or their partners were behind Stuxnet and Duqu.

But here we are talking about compromised hardware. And while Western companies and governments have been talking about that for years, I haven't heard of any proof.

If somebody would find proof that any one Chinese company had in fact backdoors designed into their hardware, not only would that company not be able to make any business outside of China anymore, but many other Chinese companies would struggle as well.

So I have my doubts that they are that stupid.
Still, I might be wrong. So: Please share the proof about backdoors (!) in Chinese hardware.

Re:Their loss (5, Insightful)

tylikcat (1578365) | about a year ago | (#44411141)

Well, and let's talk about the US record of viruses (as I believe that's better documented than anything else out there)...

Re:Their loss (1)

pmontra (738736) | about a year ago | (#44411101)

If both parties have too much to lose there won't be another war. That's a fortunate consequence of globalization.

Re:Their loss (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411147)

Soon governments will not be able tu fund wars... peace through poverty?

Re:Their loss (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411211)

That's right, we'll unconditionally surrender within hours (or minutes if using Chinese equipment, helpfully designed to make this process easier).

Re:Their loss (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year ago | (#44411247)

If both parties have too much to lose there won't be another war. That's a fortunate consequence of globalization.

The problem with that is there is no way to calculate what priorities the other side will use to calculate when they have "too much to lose."

Re:Their loss (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411121)

There are plenty of Fabs in the United States, particularly in Texas. I would be far more concerned about Texan Secession than War with China when it comes to availability of semiconductor production.

Plenty of passives are also made in the US.

Re:Their loss (2)

Arrepiadd (688829) | about a year ago | (#44411159)

Is it racism to be concerned that our military is using computer parts that can't (or won't) be produced at home?

If we had to go to "total war" tomorrow like we had to after Pearl Harbor I think we would be in pretty big trouble if our enemy was from the east and all of our sudden our constant shipping was gone. It we Americans are so damn expensive and corporations are at their height of greed and power we've pretty much forgotten how do that manufacturing.

Because if you just buy Apple computers the problem magically gets solved? Aren't Macs produced in China? What about other companies (HP, Dell, etc.)? Which of them still produce the entire laptop (motherboard, RAM, SSD/HDD, etc.) in the US?

Re:Their loss (-1, Redundant)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about a year ago | (#44411259)

Because Macs are used in the military....

Re:Their loss (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411171)

It is a joke, right?

China may be the only country in the world that has the capacity of fully producing modern computers, with all their components and pieces.
How many industrial (silicon) foundries do you think remain in USA or EU?

Re:Their loss (0)

RenHoek (101570) | about a year ago | (#44411197)

It's racism to exaggerate undue fears that the Chinese are installing backdoors everywhere. They undoubtedly do install backdoors though..

However if the Chinese are ever coming for the USA, it will be through the courts with a small army of debt collectors.

So it's more about have realistic fears..

Re:Their loss (1)

AchilleTalon (540925) | about a year ago | (#44411231)

Calm down, there is no reason China would like to engage a total war against its principal customer. For sure it would like to get some industrial advantages and tactical advantages on resources, however, it would not be a good idea to destroy its customer base.

Re:Their loss (3, Insightful)

felixrising (1135205) | about a year ago | (#44411011)

Sounds like capitalism at work.. working through our governments and spy agencies to lock out a major supplier/s from contract deals.

Re:Their loss (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411053)

Capitalism doesn't work through government, that's somethings else. Oligarchy, maybe.

Re:Their loss (3, Interesting)

Grand Facade (35180) | about a year ago | (#44411169)

Not Capitalism, it's the "American way".
If you can't make a better product. get the other one banned or tie them up in litigation.

Re:Their loss (5, Insightful)

dintech (998802) | about a year ago | (#44411013)

I think the Chinese probably have a lot more to fear from using American technology than the reverse.

Re:Their loss (0)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year ago | (#44411073)

That so? Care to illustrate your POV with some solid evidence?

Re:Their loss (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411133)

PRISM: Microsoft, Google, Apple... Need I elaborate or is it sufficient to say that the US government is in the spying business and the Chinese will be doing themselves a favor by banning US products and services?

Re: Their loss (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411167)

Uhhh, Stuxnet comes to mind

Re:Their loss (4, Insightful)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year ago | (#44411077)

This is hardly new. IIRC Huawei also had similar issues.

Worse is yet still to come. Given the extent of backdoors, data sharing and data sniffing as has been exposed during the last couple of weeks a lot of service providers in the US may suffer a similar fate. All these service providers operate on trust and trust is at an all time low.

Now all I have to say when a customer/PHB talks about "cloud" is to counter their BS bingo with "trust". And trust is easier lost than earned.
The intelligence community in the US, UK and Europe have managed to sow the seed of distrust into everything that is connected to the net. While Joe Public doesn't seem to care, those who do have to care will think twice. The new bonanza will be security/privacy technology while the clouds disperse in the corporate sector.

Re:Their loss (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411149)

And trust is easier lost than earned.

Indeed. I was trusting the NSA to backup all my data, and now they cannot even find their own emails. I guess I'll have to do my own backup, after all. ;-)

Re:Their loss (1)

CaptSlaq (1491233) | about a year ago | (#44411205)

And trust is easier lost than earned.

Indeed. I was trusting the NSA to backup all my data, and now they cannot even find their own emails. I guess I'll have to do my own backup, after all. ;-)

Comedy gold.

It's starting. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411223)

Rush Limbaugh has been marketing this email company [reagan.com] .

Folks are starting to get concerned. And unfortunately, many (elderly) folks think that the this is enough to keep private.

Re:Their loss (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year ago | (#44411023)

"Chinese" is not a race. It is a nationality.

Re:Their loss (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411221)

Look up the word "race"

You may find that it doesn't quite mean what you think it means.

Re:Their loss (2)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | about a year ago | (#44411297)

More specifically Taiwan is racially dominated by (Han) Chinese people (98% according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] ). The USA typically has little problem with dealing with the Taiwanese or the other way round. Same goes for Singapore.

This is really about other things. The obvious stuff about China becoming a threat to the USA's dominance, but to a greater extent the real fact that China represents a threat to many people who live in the area nearby who then support and allow the USA to come in to the area. What the Chinese should do is to try to take leadership over from the states in terms of human rights and democracy. This is probably one of their few chances to do it; their people are mostly fat and happy; the USA has let slip it's mask just a bit too much. Of course, the Chinese leaders are probably not brave enough for this.

Given that kind of situation, you have a real ongoing asymmetric semi-cold war where the USA still has a considerable technical lead and China has almost no choice but to spy. I don't really doubt the accusations against China generally since, if they weren't doing things like this you would have to think their leadership negligent.

Re:Their loss (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411031)

...bit of racism...whatever. I find it funny that you point out the US in your comment, but totally ignore the other big countries also banning Lenovo...

sounds like you're anti-US (since we're throwing out generalizations).

Re:Their loss (0)

Stargoat (658863) | about a year ago | (#44411071)

Hmmm. The fact that most (or all) Lenovo chief executives are Communists is not a legitimate concern? Heh. At the end of the day, Lenovo is owned and run by the CCP. That alone is a reason for concern.

Re:Their loss (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411263)

Hmmm. The fact that most (or all) Lenovo chief executives are Communists is not a legitimate concern?

Not really. I live in a part of the world were we aren't blindly taught that communist = evil, just as we aren't taught that corporations = evil.
If you can prove that the Lenovo chief executives are psychopaths then I might be concerned, but the competition doesn't really have a good track record so the alternative might be to not have a laptop at all.

Re:Their loss (1)

cdrudge (68377) | about a year ago | (#44411131)

Thinkpads are very popular with people who need to do their own maintenance. They use them on the ISS for that very reason. Every part is replaceable

What part on non-Lenovo (or earlier non-IBM) laptop is not replaceable? Every laptop I've owned that has had something break I've been able to find a replacement part for it.

Presuming you're talking about factory service type of work, it's not exactly like you're swapping out individual components on circuit boards. Modern laptops aren't that much more than a chassis, a mainboard, a daughter card or two for the wireless/modem/bluetooth, a screen, and a few wiring harnesses to connect everything together.

Re:Their loss (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411155)

I recall when the Pentagon refused to purchase Fujitsu switching equipment because of fear of a "dec 7th" feature... so yes, some of it is racism and stupidity.

Re:Their loss (2)

AchilleTalon (540925) | about a year ago | (#44411213)

Not really. I am a old afficionado of the Thinkpad brand. When Lenovo bought the brand I got a T61p which died prematurately after the guarantee expiration. The problem was with the Nvidia graphics processor and it wasn't replaceable. The whole system board needed to be replaced at a price much higher than a brand new laptop. I did remove every part in this laptop and it wasn't that easy as it once was with older Thinkpads and other brands from the Big Blue.

I believe the Thinkpad brand is slowly changing and becoming more and more like any others, except the price for a while.

For this reason, I abandoned the brand and since they no longer pay attention to the reputation of quality and service once the brand was the flagship, I am buying the cheapest laptops I can find on the market which meet my requirements for performance. Anyway, in two years you will have to change and throw it in the garbbage can or recycle bin. Why spending more good money than needed on same crap?

Re:Their loss (1)

Steve_Ussler (2941703) | about a year ago | (#44411227)

Easy maintenance is great. Having the Chinese put backdoors and rootkits in...no so great.

Re:Their loss (1)

Lisias (447563) | about a year ago | (#44411235)

Sounds like another fear of the boogyman and more racism are really going to hurt the US in the long run.

Here, I fixed that for you.

Re:Their loss (2)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about a year ago | (#44411245)

Really? The U.S. did it to Soviet Union back in the early '80s. So it's very possible if not likely that other governments would try the samething.

When you are dealing with sensitive information, you error on the side of caution. You would have to be a complete moron to do otherwise.

The US? (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year ago | (#44411249)

I wasn't aware the US had annexed Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. ...or are you just trying to spin something as anti-US when really it is a collection of nations?

Re:Their loss (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411255)

Sounds like fear of the boogyman and a bit of racism are really going to hurt the US in the long run.

It's not racism to believe that the Chinese are attacking the companies and governments of Western countries, it's simply acknowledging reality. (And "the West" is also infiltrating China as well.)

Now whether Lenovo (or Huawei) in particular are doing it is another matter.

Re:Their loss (3, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#44411287)

I am not sure why you just don't test the device. Every device if security is that big of a concern.
I mean it is a freaking man made computer not a Magic Box.

Plug it into an isolated network that looks like a Wan connection with some honey pots. And see what the heck it is sending with some simulated use. You can check the hardware to see what type of wireless transmitters it has installed. Put it in a Faraday Cage and monitor what stuff it is sending out wirelessly.

Also if security is a concern. Why would you leave the default image that came with the PC, you should do a clean install of your "trusted" OS with the software you want.

Besides if the Chinese wants to spy on us. They don't need to send us computers with hack in it. Most IT departments are so incompetent (Usually upper middle management who is unwilling to pay for the necessary upgrades until there is a problem) that they will leave gaping holes to get in.

While Think Pads are Black Boxes, there isn't anything magical about them. They are boxes that happen to be black, with normal PC stuff in them and compared to other models much easier to dissemble and have every part checked out.

I would be more worried about your smartphone. This thing has sends stuff wireless by design. And it relatively slow processor means security holes my be in the system as a trade-off to get a little extra performance out of it.

Re:Their loss (1)

tibit (1762298) | about a year ago | (#44411299)

Hurt "the US"? What the heck are you talking about? Given the scale the PCs are deployed at, nobody repairs them. Nobody. I mean we're talking less than 1 in 1000 PCs ever being repaired, even if it'd be a software repair only! Even PCs that have fully functional hardware are thrown away because they "become slow and crash often" - read: they are malware infested, nothing wrong with the hardware at all.

It's being deluded to think that the repairability of the PC affects anyone but the geeks and data center operators.

Re:Their loss (3, Insightful)

fafaforza (248976) | about a year ago | (#44411303)

I have 4 ThinkPads, and wish you hadn't used 'racism', as it negates most of what you said. There's lots of hacking going on from China, targeting Boeing and Lockheed Martin. And most wouldn't put it past their government to do what's "necessary" to catch up to the west, and the Chinese government has lots of control over their corporations. So it isn't outlandish to be concerned about the hardware placed in sensitive areas.

I think it's more of a boogyman and fearmongering to start calling people/nations racist.

So instead? (5, Insightful)

John Burton (2974729) | about a year ago | (#44410987)

So I wonder which manufacturer that doesn't use Chinese components they'll use instead?

Re: So instead? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411003)

Since you asked, my org (Fortune 500 Defense contractor) switched from Thinkpad to HP.

Re: So instead? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411135)

HP doesn't manufacturer in China or use components from others within there systems that are manufactured in China?

I doubt that.

Re:So instead? (5, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#44411019)

Having components from China is different from having the entire machine, or at least key parts that can phone home, from China is very different. They don't give a damn if your capacitors or even the entire DVD drive are from China.

Re:So instead? (2, Insightful)

nucrash (549705) | about a year ago | (#44411059)

Main components like the mainboard? BIOS or ufi? No one could ever put a phone home program in a small bit like the network/wireless adapters. That would never happen.

Not easily (3, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year ago | (#44411241)

The motherboard may be made in China but the components are not. The chips are largely American in manufacture (most of them are Intel). Now I suppose the company making the motherboards could add a chip, but, well, that would kinda be noticed during the QA process by the company that ordered them. It isn't like you get parts from a Chinese manufacturer and just slap them in a unit sight-unseen. Not because of worries about spying but because quality control with Chinese companies can be... problematic. You have to test the parts and send back the failed ones (1%ish usually, sometimes more).

In terms of BIOS/UEFI? That's all Phoenix Technologies and American Megatrends. They are in California and Georgia respectively.

Re:So instead? (2)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#44411243)

Most western-designed machines also have final assembly in China, in addition to the components mostly being made in China. For example, HP assembles many of its laptops in Chongqing in a joint facility [bloomberg.com] .

There might be some difference, since the design is done by HP, and they oversee the production to try to ensure it's in accordance with their design. I'm not sure how much of a barrier to slipping something in that provides, but it might be nonzero.

Re:So instead? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411021)

My thoughts exactly.

HP is half American, half Indian, rapidly becoming all Indian; they outsourced all the special bits to Asus and Quantum a long time ago.

Dell outsourced their stuff to Acer ages ago.

IBM, IBM is thinking of outsourcing their server business now, to Levono.

Toshiba, Fujitsu? Please.

More than likely this article is referencing back-doors in Intel AMT, but there may be other things.

AMT is a backdoor, exists on all x86 chipsets now. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411181)

AMT is a backdoor, exists on all x86 chipsets now.
We must just accept this. We don't own ourselves, our children, nor our machines.
Our betters do.
We must simply obey.

Always can be reenabled remotely.

but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44410993)

....Microsoft is still getting multi-billion dollar deals.

Why does the U.S. use Windows versions in its tanks. The last thing you want is a bluescreen on the battlefield.

Re:but... (3, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#44411033)

Windows can be very solid with some tweaking and only running trusted apps. It's when you open it up to third party software and drivers that haven't been thoroughly tested that you really run into issues. Sure, it's possible to get a BSoD regardless of what you do, but it's also possible for Linux or OSX installs to break too.

Re:but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411323)

Fortunately MS Windows has backdoors that can only be use by the good old USA..

It is so secret nobody else knows about it, especially no "outsiders" like the Chinese...

That will give suich a warm cosy and very safe feeling!

Right?

red herring (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44410999)

nothing happening over here.

Good move (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411001)

Good move. After all we don't want a chink in our defence agency computing infrastructure

Re: Good move (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411027)

You make me lol

Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411017)

The DOD has been doing this for years, the Dell/HP/Cisco/Other-Big-Military-supplier equipment are not built in the standard Chinese sweatshop but actually made in plants within the US or the EU. Costs are higher but who cares, it's for national security right?

Re:Nothing new (3, Insightful)

beamin (23709) | about a year ago | (#44411039)

Costs are higher, but Americans are being employed and paid with tax money. Sounds like a better approach than shipping it directly to someone else's economy.

How would we know? (1)

iYk6 (1425255) | about a year ago | (#44411025)

No evidence has yet been presented to back the claims...
Is it fearmongering?
Or is there some legitimate basis for the ban?

How would we know whether or not evidence exists? All we know is that we haven't seen any. Time will tell. If no evidence is preseneted in the next month or so, then we'll know that it's just fearmongering, and not a legitmate basis for a ban.

Re:How would we know? (1)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#44411055)

What it really comes down to is that the US government doesn't want the Chinese to invade the US government's turf of spying on our own citizens/employees/personnel.

Re:How would we know? (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#44411057)

Just because there's no evidence doesn't mean something isn't true. There's no evidence of life currently on Mars, but that doesn't mean there definitely isn't life on Mars. A lack of evidence just means a lack of ability to prove something one way or another.

Re:How would we know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411103)

Awfully naive. We're talking about China here, they make every single piece of hardware that houses every bit of important data worldwide. Markets, trading, defence.. What regime like China wouldn't take up that opportunity. I think it's far deeper than watching basic packets of data. Try complex encoding in network latency, RF from 'spurious' emissions etc.

Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411037)

So they'll be banning Microsoft Windows too?

Re:Hmmm... (4, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#44411067)

They're only worried about back doors, not back windows. There's no way the Chinese could sneak fat American secrets out through a window.

Welcome to Cisco and MS's future... (5, Interesting)

nweaver (113078) | about a year ago | (#44411043)

The problem is the credible fear of a lifecycle attack is sufficient to require that such hardware be avoided. There is a reasonable fear that the chinese might try something using Lenovo kit, therefore the classified networks need to avoid it. Its the same reason why Huawei networking hardware is avoided in some circles.

Of course, with the NSA now clearly off the leash, US IT equipment is now in the same position. Microsoft clearly backdoored Skype to enable easy wiretapping, the NSA is reportedly hacking foreign networks to introduce monitoring (who knows, perhaps it was the NSA responsible for the Athens Affair [ieee.org] ?), and with any US Cloud service provider subject to PRISM-style requirements, US IT infrastructure is now in the same boat that the Chinese have been struggling with for years now.

New Cold War (3, Insightful)

nebular (76369) | about a year ago | (#44411045)

The new cold war will be electronic and China has already proven that they are willing to do whatever is necessary to stay ahead there.

This isn't racism, this is a forward looking policy that's saying when, not if but when, we start finding Chinese backdoors in our equipment, they won't be in our sensitive areas.

The down side is that even if our equipment says made in the USA, it means assembled. Most of the parts will have been manufactured in China.

Re:New Cold War (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year ago | (#44411087)

...China has already proven that they are willing to do whatever is necessary to stay ahead there.

They aren't ahead, hence the spying.

In that case... (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about a year ago | (#44411051)

I hope all non-US companies similarly decide to not use US-based vendors, given that there is greater likelihood that the NSA has back doors. What do you think those 200MB HP printer drivers are for, after all?

Re:In that case... (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#44411105)

Most of that 200MB has nothing to do with drivers. Do what anyone in IT does if that 200MB download is the only driver package available... download it, open the executable up with your favorite ZIP program and extract just the folder containing the actual print drivers. You don't need the rest of the software for printing.

Re:In that case... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411115)

Unlike most US companies, The Chinese government owns the largest share (38%) of Lenovo's parent company Legend which owns the largest share of Lenovo (34%).

FYI it was the British and Australian defense and intelligence communities that discovered malicious modifications to Lenovo's circuitry. Just in case you actually believe that the US intelligence was proactive for once, it was the British intelligence findings that encouraged congress to react.

Awww, but that's no fun! (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year ago | (#44411275)

You ruined his perfectly good "hate on the US" session! After all, clearly the US is the bad guy if they are doing this. The other countries must have good reasons and/or are just US puppets, it is the US that is evil!

It is amusing how two posters in this thread so far have tried to spin this in to an anti-US rant, when it is rather something happening in a number of nations. On Slashdot, it seems to continue to be trendy to hate on the US, for any or no reason at all.

Next in line to get banned (1)

dnaumov (453672) | about a year ago | (#44411061)

Microsoft and Cisco.

RF backdoor? Network Latency Encoding? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411063)

Working in Defence in AU for some time - this was raised as an issue a long time ago (going back to DRM back door issues) - I think it won't be long until we find all sorts of backdoors in chipsets. 'Spurious' RF and perhaps intentional network latency (using 'random' latency to send data). All too often we're watching network packets and assuming we're seeing the whole picture. "Well that didn't go to a questionable IP, so that data is safe". If I were given the task of spying on the West but manufactured every single piece of technology that stored the data I so very much wanted, incredible inside knowledge - I'd be using RF, I'd make it seem spurious and have it skip about in frequency and encoding to it's own entirely unique algorithm. Even using simple HAM radio data protocols, it would be simple enough to skip about frequencies randomly to seem spurious. Without the Algorithm you'd have no idea what frequency holds the next packet of data... to be detected from a long way away. Of course all theories and easy to be shot down until it's on the front page of the paper.

Re:RF backdoor? Network Latency Encoding? (1)

bytesex (112972) | about a year ago | (#44411165)

You'd have to be really close to the equipment to detect that. Put it inside a Faraday room and your advantage is gone.

Re:RF backdoor? Network Latency Encoding? (2)

internerdj (1319281) | about a year ago | (#44411271)

There are a number of reasons that this might not be the solution. The biggest of which is it is a lot cheaper for the DoD to say no Lenovo equipment in a sensitve system than to commission faraday cages for every sensitive experiment or environment.

Fear that it is *not* bugged! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411065)

I would venture to think that the western governments fear that the laptops might not be bugged by their respective agencies, or at least an agency willing to share the information.

Is this the real reason? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411079)

Does anyone trust the source of these claims? Maybe this gear is disparaged and shut out because Lenovo wouldn't implement backdoors for western governments.

They expect others to be like themselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411085)

So naturally they don't trust others. It says more about the governments which block Lenovo than it says about Lenovo.

What's the question? (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about a year ago | (#44411097)

If there is no evidence, then yes it is scaremongering. Stuxnet and Spying on their own civilians, well for that there is evidence.

Odd. (0)

lxs (131946) | about a year ago | (#44411111)

It's only English speaking Western governments. Is there some sort of Anglo-Saxon paranoia at work or are these countries by way of a common language simply the closest satellite states of the US?

Re:Odd. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411139)

No, Western media outlets are too dumb & lazy to translate their fearmongering propaganda into other languages.

[Citation Needed] (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411119)

[Citation Needed]

Neither TFA nor the article they quoted actually cite their sources and it really reads like FUD. I'd love to see some actual statements from any of the governments involved.

Re:[Citation Needed] (3, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#44411137)

The official statement is as follows:

[REDACTED]

No fear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411129)

Wipe the drive and install the OS yourself from a trusted source. That gets rid of not only bloatware, but also spy stuff that was added on.

That leaves only bios/firmware, and putting serious spy stuff there is hard. They can conceivably have made something that works with a current version of windows, but the bios is limited and a quick hack there won't necessarily work with another version, another os or another filesystem.

Also, such things are easily detected. Spyware - governmental or private - have to "call home". Easily detected by a firewall that logs outgoing connections.

Re:No fear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411317)

Also, such things are easily detected. Spyware - governmental or private - have to "call home". Easily detected by a firewall that logs outgoing connections.

And where, exactly, did that computer running the firewall come from? How will you know that the embedded software isn't allowing some packets to sneak past the firewall?

UK controlled by Huawei (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411143)

In other News [bbc.co.uk] UK has installed Huawei equipement for censorship.

Do you trust your government? Why? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#44411157)

Actually there is another possibility here, especially given the recent revelations about what Western governments do on daily basis to anybody, they can get their dirty little hands on (I am talking about NSA, etc.)

Maybe the real issue is that ThinkPad brand doesn't have back doors that Western governments can use to break into those machines and that's the real issue for governments, such as Australia, the US, Britain, Canada and New Zealand?

Yes, yes there is. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411161)

The reason is that the NSA has developed, a few years ago, a technique for embedding exactly such backdoors in PCs sold by American companies. They're being installed by the power of National Security Letters (which you can't tell anyone about, even a judge), and have been for the past two or three years.

This comes out right now because Evil Red China has found a way to exploit backdoors in computers used by Americans (and big surprise there!), which they didn't even make. The US fears it is constantly behind on development (which is true), so this change means that the US is victimized not only by its own government, but by the Chinese as well -- whereas buyers of Chinese equipment are only victimized by Evil Red China.

The US knows its own backdoors and can thus guard against their use, perhaps at the network level. It also knows that where US backdoors exist, Chinese backdoors don't. However, the US doesn't know Chinese backdoors. This frightens them greatly.

But well, I'd be frightened too. For instance, if I knew that virtualization environments can be written that completely conceal themselves from the owner by hiding in the motherboard's encrypted BIOS. This is done by applying techniques of nested virtualization -- which aren't trap-and-emulate anymore, as since Sandy Bridge and Piledriver the main x86 CPUs have supported VM host nesting in hardware.

Oh wait, I do know that. Well bloody cock, guess you're all boned then.

Why do the heavy lifting yourself? (1)

RenHoek (101570) | about a year ago | (#44411175)

All the Chinese need to do is gain access to the NSA backdoors that are in all versions of Windows... That would be far more efficient.. and undoubtedly they already have..

The cat does not have my tongue! (1)

d0n0v6n (2899117) | about a year ago | (#44411195)

You can have my T61 when you pry it from cold, dead hands.

More Likely ... (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year ago | (#44411239)

Someone important's cousin just bought the competition to Lenovo.

What a load of crap (4, Interesting)

sirwired (27582) | about a year ago | (#44411253)

There isn't a single US manufacturer of motherboards any more; that would be the most sturdy place to insert any nefariousness (at least, nefariousness by the PC manufacturer.) Who knows where BIOS code is written these days; but I doubt it's the US.

Not to mention the whole stack of drivers you need, like those for on-board peripherals. It'd be just as easy to put a back-door in a Windows I/O driver as it would the BIOS.

Suspicious kettles and pots (4, Insightful)

dogsbreath (730413) | about a year ago | (#44411291)

Well now, it's been my keen observation over the years that people suspect of others the same nefarious behaviour that they indulge in themselves or would do given the opportunity. I am sure that there exist proposals to have Cisco/Juniper/Akami network gear do more than is advertised.

Knowing that the West intelligence services would do (are doing??) what Lenovo & Huawei are suspected of is enough to have those companies banned, at least in CIA/NSA thinking.

It's difficult enough to keep malware out of the network as it is without providing an easy doorway.

eg: stuxnet

However, if evaluation of the policy to ban Lenovo were up to me, I would do a serious risk evaluation and compare Lenovo to others such as Dell. Truth is that state sponsored malware could be introduced at many levels including embedded firmware in say, network or video chipsets.

I suspect that the multinational component sourcing makes banning Lenovo analogous to plugging a small hole in a screen door while leaving all the windows open.

One easy solution (1)

Provocateur (133110) | about a year ago | (#44411309)

To find your answer, what brand are the paranoid Chinese using?

Simple, right?

Fearmongering or incompetence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44411327)

If they can't detect such subterfuge and publicly show that it does exist, then it says something: either it is completely unjustified fear mongering for other purposes or these security agencies are saying they are too incompetent to catch it if it was deployed.

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