Kansas State Spending is Harming Kansans Far and Wide

This week China Tech Threat is set to launch our new report: High Tech Heist: Chinese Government IT Vendors And The Threat To U.S. Banks. Through this report we show that, despite major investment by US banks in cybersecurity and significant federal policy efforts, attacks on US banks are increasing frequency, severity, and sophistication. In order to address these issues we must look within the US to see where our weaknesses lie. As we have previously notated, one of the largest threats comes from state governments continuing to purchase U.S. military-restricted equipment. This includes buying products from Lenovo, a Chinese-owned company that has been restricted by multiple military and intelligence agencies in the U.S. and around the globe because of security deficiencies.

Through a FOIA request, we found that Kansas 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 used to maintain personal and sensitive records of Kansans across the state. Moreover, The State Bank of Kansas Commissioner’s Office has spent over $224,000 on Lenovo equipment in the past 5 years, making the state all that more vuerable to potential dangerous cyber threats.

Read our full Kansa FOIA report here: 

The use of restricted Chinese government-owned technology vendors by these agencies endangers Kansas’ personal and financial information. Most notably, our report found that The State Bank of Kansas Commissioner’s Office and a wide range of State Universities have spent significant amounts on Lenovo products. The Emporia State University’s mission is “preparing students for lifelong learning, rewarding careers, and adaptive leadership.” It has spent more than $730,000 on Lenovo equipment. Maintaining data about the state’s high education students and educators, including test scores, certifications, financial and criminal records, is all work that involves sensitive personal information.

State and federal officials serving Kansas should work together to take action against these risky purchases. Rick Beattie, Director of Procurement and Contracts for Kansas and  DeAngela Burns-Wallace the Chief Information Officer of the state, can, and should work within the state government to prevent Lenovo products from being used or purchased.

Further, Kansas’ Congressional Leadership has been at the forefront of countering the China threat. Senator Marshall, a former Congressman, has been outspoken against standing up to Chinese aggression and the Chinese Communist Party. In a recent op-ed he wrote that we need leadership “who will stand up to China, and not be complicit in their global propaganda machine.” Further, Rep. Estes has been a leader in the fight against China’s unfair trade practices. He was recently outspoken on the issue saying, “China has clearly engaged in predatory policies that have harmed American workers — including the theft of American intellectual property, which costs us jobs.” 

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.

View the full FOIA report here.