Iowa Tech Purchases Places Critical Infrastructure Agencies in Jeopardy of Cyberattacks

Just last week, the U.S., NATO and other allies came together to call out China for malicious cyberattacks. It’s the first time that NATO has signed onto a formal condemnation of China’s cyber activities. The authorities  detailed more than 50 different techniques that Chinese state-sponsored actors used to carry out “ransomware incidents and other malicious cyber activity, targeting our critical infrastructure and democratic institutions, as well as exploiting weaknesses in hardware and software supply chains.” 

This is not new to us at China Tech Threat. We have been calling out the CPP and state-sponsored actions and technology that put the U.S. at risk. Principally we have exposed 27 states that have been engaging in risky tech contracts with Chinese government-owned technology manufacturers including Lexmark and Lenovo, both of which have been restricted by the Pentagon. It is these types of contracts that leave Americans across the country, vulnerable.

Now, our latest work on exposing risky state spending  found that Iowa has spent over $1 million on Lenovo products in recent years giving the Chinese government having access and control over all data on their products. The level of Iowa spending on these products has increased each year.

Read our FOIA Report here:

Most of the spending by the Iowa State Government was through the Department of Transportation. The transportation sector is particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks in part because of the inherent dependence on technology. 

Beyond the Department of Transport, the Iowa Department of Education spent $375,000 dollars on Lenovo equipment. It provides oversight to the state education system and employs about 220 employees. It also holds private student and teacher data related to test scores, free meals and certifications. With repeated evidence of cyber attacks on academic institutions across the country, the Dept. of Education is extremely vulnerable. 

State and federal officials representing Iowa should work together to take action against these risky purchases. Allen Meyer, Chief Operations Officer, and Annette Dunn, Chief Information Officer, can work within the state government to prevent Lenovo products from being used or purchased.

Further, members representing Iowa have been leaders in the fight against Chinese aggression in the technological sphere. Senator Grassley has been at the forefront of challenging China in Congress. Most recently, a major legislative package aimed at improving economic competition with China and holding its communist government accountable for predatory tactics today passed the Senate with several key provisions authored by Grassley. Of the bill he said, “The Chinese Communist Party has made no bones about its desire for global economic dominance through whatever means necessary. They’ve actively worked to buy up, influence, spy on and steal American innovation.” 

Further, Rep. Ashley Hinson recently led a letter to the Biden Administration, urging them to stand against the Chinese Communist Party. She wrote, “While the United States is focused on encouraging multilateralism in the South China Sea, China continuously undermines these efforts, engages in malign and aggressive activity in the Indo-Pacific region, and commits egregious human rights atrocities. China shamelessly demonstrates a blatant disregard for human rights and a lack of respect for international diplomacy.” 

This bipartisan issue affects all Americans. We urge those who can act to do so and we hope that our elected officials who work to protect user privacy will resolve this increasingly concerning threat.