The Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General released a report showing the potential cyber security vulnerabilities in American weapons, security and IT systems, stemming from the procurement of commercial items (COTS) by defense employees using federally – funded credit cards. These purchases, legally capped at $10,000, were for items like printers, computers, and cameras to be used by Air Force and Army personnel.
The issue identified by the Inspector General is in the potential for cyber espionage on the devices procured and introduced into domestic networks; items like Lenovo computers, Lexmark printers and GoPro cameras were identified as possible ‘entry points’ for foreign actors seeking to obtain private information. Lenovo computers were cited as especially dangerous in the report, as the company is China’s largest manufacturer of personal computers and the world leader in PC sales. Citing warnings issued by Congress and the Department of Homeland Security against the use of Lenovo hardware by government employees, the Inspector General states that introducing Lenovo hardware into the DoD supply chain poses a cyberespionage risk across DoD infrastructure, threatening operational security and at the same time American national security.
As Congress continues to magnify the risks of Chinese technology to the American public it is imperative that companies like Lenovo receive the same level of scrutiny as their fellow Chinese state-supported enterprises. By dodging suspicion thus far the Chinese tech behemoth has infiltrated networks sensitive to cyber espionage and offered the Chinese government an exploitable back door into countless American networks. Only through intense scrutiny can Americans rid their networks of possible conduits for foreign cyber espionage – i.e. Lenovo consumer and commercial hardware.