The Pentagon has warned against the use of Lenovo technology following concerns that the Chinese computer manufacturer has been spying on government officials.
In an alleged internal report sent out by the J-2 intelligence directorate, the Pentagon warned that Lenovo equipment “could facilitate cyber intelligence-gathering against both classified and unclassified—but still sensitive—U.S. military networks.”
According to the Washington Free Beacon, “around 27 percent of Lenovo Group Ltd. is owned by the Chinese Academy of Science,” adding, “In April, a Chinese Academy of Sciences space imagery expert, Zhou Zhixin, was named to a senior post in the Chinese military’s new Strategic Support Force, a unit in charge of space, cyber, and electronic warfare.”
Last week, Courthouse News Service reported that Lenovo had pleaded ignorance to the charge that spyware had been found on four computers manufactured and sold by the company.
Lenovo has a history of allegedly installing spyware on its customers’ machines, with the company reportedly being caught for the third time with malicious software on its vanilla machines last September.
Daniel Stephenson, the attorney who represented Lenovo in court, defended the company by saying that the software had ceased to damage any of its customers’ machines, before adding that as soon as the company became aware, “Lenovo addressed the issue by removing the offending software.”
“Chinese cyber security and supply chain concerns remain a significant problem for both the Defense Department and the remainder of the federal government,” said Rep. Robert Pittenger in response to the Pentagon’s internal report. He added that the Pentagon should “act swiftly on perceived cyber-threats and remove IT vendors from our supply chain if evidence exists suggesting a security vulnerability.”
“I would be very disappointed to learn, however, if the Defense Department or the Air Force sought to obfuscate the facts regarding contracts with Lenovo when this issue was brought to my attention back in April,” he continued.
“The Chinese government has a major stake in Lenovo,” said former military intelligence official Larry Wortzel. “China remains one of the main threats to U.S. government and corporate information systems… One way to keep those systems safe is to ensure you are not getting system updates that may have a back door that can be opened by a Chinese intelligence service.”
“Although we are concerned any time another nation or individual attempts to initiate intelligence collection against the Department of Defense, we do not discuss internal assessments,” said Joint Staff spokesman Capt. Greg Hicks to the Washington Free Beacon.