June 2021 Newsletter

BIS Watch: Register For June 8 “Let The Chips Fall At BIS?” Panel. Register here for  Tuesday’s virtual panel event with China Tech Threat Co-Founder Dr. Roslyn Layton, Stephen Ezell with the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, Will Hunt with Georgetown’s Center for Security & Emerging Technology, and Emily de La Bruyere with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. The expert panel will examine how Congress and the Biden Administration should manage the challenges surrounding semiconductors, and the leadership and next steps needed at the most important agency you’ve never heard of, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS).  For more on the future of BIS as anticipation builds for President Biden’s pick to lead it, visit our Future of BIS page. 

Column: Semiconductors Have Catapulted BIS As Key Actor In International Affairs. Ahead of the June 8 virtual panel event to examine the future of BIS, panel moderator and China Tech Threat Co-Founder Dr. Roslyn Layton published a Forbes column calling on industrial leaders and policymakers to rebuild America’s chip making capabilities with a commitment to produce at least half of America’s needed chips by U.S. majority-owned firms. “Given their importance to the US economy, innovation, and security, semiconductors have taken center stage in technology policy. Moreover, managing export controls of these sensitive, strategic and emerging technologies has catapulted the little-known BIS as a key actor in international affairs. Whether, how, and where the chips fall has implications for the future,” writes Layton. 

Economist Features Dr. Layton’s Perspective On Scope Of BIS Relevance And Impact Today. The Economist published a letter to the editor by Dr. Roslyn Layton responding to a May 8 narrow-sighted piece regarding the forthcoming decision on who will lead The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). “While the Economist aptly spotlights the critical role of BIS, which may be the most important agency most Americans have never heard of, it’s missing the bigger picture on other points. The Economist suggests that a tough on China policy is about “curtailing China’s rise,” but that is not what export control – a key part of BIS’s stated mission – is about. It is about stopping the proliferation of sensitive technology into enemy’s hands,” the letter states.

Texas At Risk of Cyber Attacks Similar To New York, Others. China Tech Threat has been sounding the alarm over risky state tech contracts with Chinese government-owned technology manufacturers including Lexmark and Lenovo, both of which have been restricted by the Pentagon. It has recently uncovered that Texas has spent over $6 million on Lenovo and Lexmark products in recent years, potentially giving the Chinese government access and control over all data on their products. This includes more than $405,000 worth of spending by Texas A&M University and Texas Tech, both large research institutes that are now at an increased risk to cyberattacks similar to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), a renowned research and engineering school in New York.

Beware China’s Stealth Brands. Protocol’s Shen Lu did a deep report on the rise of Chinese brands and their efforts to “hide their origin.” Lu follows an earlier Protocol report exposing Lenovo for disguising its name. “Avoiding being seen as Chinese is a trend among companies with major operations, investors, execs or other equities in China that also operate Stateside. And it’s worked remarkably well, even for companies like Lenovo that sell hardware devices into the U.S. and are based in China,” the report found. China Tech Threat’s Dr. Roslyn Layton has been shining a spotlight on this tactic for several years warning consumers and CNBC viewers about products that have long been thought of as U.S.-made that may actually support the Chinese government and compromise buyers’ personal data. 

Bank Of America CTO Warns Of Rising Cyber Attacks. Bank of America Chief Technology Officer Cathy Bessant told journalists it is devoting more resources to fighting cyberattacks after seeing a jump in threats amid the pandemic according to a Bloomberg report. China Tech Threat’s Dr. Roslyn Layton recently published a report showing that cyber-attacks against financial organizations are growing in frequency and severity, and U.S. banks are the most targeted. Layton wrote that the People’s Republic of PRC (PRC) is the leading adversary and houses many advanced persistent threat (APT) actors against the United States. Moreover, of the leading cyber threat actors – PRC, Russia, Iran, and North Korean – only the PRC has a leading information technology (IT) industry. These vulnerable products and services are increasingly integrated in U.S. financial organizations, creating a fertile ground for future exploitation.