first_imgUpdate: Lenovo has been in touch with the following statement: Lenovo has no additional comment on recent reports in the Australia Financial Review. We would like to point out the public statement by the Australia Department of Defence available on their web site that says “This reporting is factually incorrect. There is no Department of Defence ban on the Lenovo Company or their products; either for classified or unclassified systems.”Lenovo is one of the world’s largest PC brands, but it is also a Chinese PC brand. With the US and other Western countries increasingly looking at China’s cyber warfare division as the next great threat, that was bound to create some issues. However, recent news revealing that spy agencies in the US, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have prohibitions against using the company’s products seem to be based on more than general suspicion.Apparently, the ban stems from concerns that Lenovo, which is partially owned by the Chinese government’s Academy of Sciences, has built “malicious circuits” into their machines. Testing allegedly proved the existence of backdoor functionality built into Lenovo-brand circuit boards, along with other vulnerabilities built into the firmware.There has of course been no official confirmation of these reports, but the Australian Financial Review claims that “multiple sources” in the spy agencies of both Britain and Australia have confirmed the existence of a written ban. Lenovo itself claims this is the first it has heard of the issue.Lenovo factory workers put together computers to be shipped to the US.The precise nature of the vulnerability is unknown, but Lenovo products are in use in other areas of these very governments. It’s only the secret and top secret divisions that seem to be concerned with this problem, but if Lenovo chips really do have built in vulnerabilities they should all worry. One possible use for a chip of that kind would be to make a Kill Switch, to remotely shut down a computer at will, or to establish back doors for even more nuanced infiltration.Unfortunately, the specifics of these cases are highly classified. One researcher from Rice University claimed that sources at the NSA have been working for years on the problem of Chinese state-sponsored malicious hardware. There’s no way to really confirm these reports however, since the standard response will be a non-comment for reasons of national security.It should be noted that the UKUSA Agreement, which sees high level cooperation between the intelligence arms of the US, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, includes some physical networking connections between the partners. This means that a ban on products in one of the nations, particularly the US and Britain, will result in a de-facto ban in the others through use of the same infrastructure.This marks the second time in as many weeks that the Chinese government has been accused of using theoretically private corporations for government work. Last week, the former head of the CIA alleged that Chinese communications giant Huawei is used for spying.last_img read more