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Cheltenham-based GCHQ "bans" Lenovo PCs after security concerns: reports

By Michael_Yong  |  Posted: July 30, 2013

Comments (9)

INTELLIGENCE agencies, including Cheltenham-based GCHQ, have banned Chinese PC maker Lenovo, it was reported today.

The alleged ban comes after extensive testing by British intelligence agencies found back-door hardware and firmware vulnerability in Lenovo computer chips.

This means it could allow hackers to remotely access devices without the knowledge of their owner.

The UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), MI5 and MI6 are reported as taking part in the Lenovo ban.

In a statement, Lenovo said it has not received word of any sort of a restriction of sales.

It added its products "have been found time and time again to be reliable and secure by our enterprise and public sector customers”, and it welcomes their engagement to ensure it is meeting their security needs.

A spokesman for GCHQ said: “As a matter of policy we don't routinely discuss the names or nature of suppliers to GCHQ on any aspect of our business.”

Lenovo is currently the biggest PC supplier in the world, according to the latest numbers from IDC and Gartner.

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9 comments

  • tishwash  |  August 02 2013, 9:27AM

    @Jewbacca "Therefore your assertion that firmware isn't software is complete rubbish. I hope you don't work for GCHQ, otherwise the whole country is knackered." I never said it was ? I believe that was @eyeopener @Jewbacca I did do forensics at uni and study malware, and not all malware reports back constantly, plus your PC once connected will constantly talk unless you've disabled nearly every MSFT service, so you have to filter to get the wood from the trees. About stuxnet, yes I've reverse engineered code, and no offense but you can't just say "it was good code therefore it must be such and such a country" there's just no facts behind that statement. If there is fact then that is fine, but you're just stating all good malware is the US or Israelis. AS for switch decoding, I was basing my previous statement on your analysing what data is going over your switch either by your switch reporting what protocols it is seeing or by you filtering it, sorry I should of been more specific. As for hiring you, I wouldn't hire someone who speaks absolute tishwash and expects people to believe him. Perhaps you should demonstrate your prowess, get a binary, reverse engineer it, override the return statement from any point in the code and inject your own malicious code, when done make a discussion on this website and I'll hopefully see it. Good day.

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  • Jewbacca  |  July 31 2013, 8:57PM

    tishwash - you're an idiot. I work in embedded systems. I know, unlike you it seems, that 'firmware' is actually software. Your OS will load microcode for the cpu. Ever read any Intel errata? Ever talked to an Intel employee?! Your graphics card will load microcode from the driver too. A BIOS can be updated from the OS. Same for the ipmi code, nic microcode, etc etc. Therefore your assertion that firmware isn't software is complete rubbish. I hope you don't work for GCHQ, otherwise the whole country is knackered. I work with this stuff every day. I also deal with hacking attempts similarly on my servers. If you have any more information over and above this 'story', which actually dates from 10 years ago then go nuts. If there was a backdoor, it'd talk to the internet at some point. I don't see anything, so unless the Chinese are happy to log what i'm doing *on my own PC* but never see the logs themselves, there isn't an issue. re. Stuxnet - have you ever reverse engineered any code? Have a go, then remember that people cleverer than you and I determine that it must have been written by the yanks and the israelis: http://tinyurl.com/8a7g4o9 And, in addition, what does my switch need to 'decode'? If it's not there, then what is there to 'decode'? If it's there, but I don't know where it came from, what do you think i'd do?! Come on, tishwash, tell me what you know? Or are you full of what a bovine excretes? There is far too much to worry about in life than a 10 year old alleged vulnerability in a Lenovo server. Feel free to ask if you can hire me - I plainly know more than you, and as you're so wrong in so many ways on a subject you care about you probably need the help.

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  • tishwash  |  July 31 2013, 8:21PM

    "by JewbaccaTuesday I can see *everything* it tries to do from the Cisco switch it's attached to. There has been absolutely nothing to worry about the whole time i've had it." Yeah okay, sure you can.... your switch decodes every protocol too I guess, well done for trying to act smart and failing :) "by JewbaccaTuesday I'd worry about the U.S. and U.K built kit if I were you, eyeopener, especially as Stuxnet amongst other worms were made by the Americans. I've seen the quality of Chinese code, and they're just not good enough." Right, so your random opinion will decide who made one of the biggest worms ever released in the world ? Christ so much tripe comes out of your mouth and you lose all respect from people once we realise you're lying :)

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  • Jewbacca  |  July 30 2013, 8:13PM

    Actually, in addition - i'm on this site with a company provided Lenovo Thinkpad. It's probably the best laptop in the market for a professional I.T. type. I can see *everything* it tries to do from the Cisco switch it's attached to. There has been absolutely nothing to worry about the whole time i've had it. I'd worry about the U.S. and U.K built kit if I were you, eyeopener, especially as Stuxnet amongst other worms were made by the Americans. I've seen the quality of Chinese code, and they're just not good enough.

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  • Jewbacca  |  July 30 2013, 1:03PM

    eyeopener - i'm fully aware of what the article is on about, ta. my company builds embedded devices that use TPMs and secure boot UEFI for the mobile networks. There is NO known 'backdoor' in the kit in question. If there was, then GCHQ would be shouting it from the rooftops. There may be exploitable vulnerabilities, but that's the same with all software. Firmware *is* software. The inference from the article is that those infernal Chinese are trying to hack us from inside. They probably are, as we do to them, but there is *no* evidence this is happening with the Lenovo kit. TiG can't afford reporters it seems, so they simply search Facebook and the national newspapers for anything they can repost with a 'local' angle. The fact they don't understand the issue is another sign the rag isn't long for this world.

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  • eyeopener  |  July 30 2013, 12:56PM

    @ Jewbacca It's always a good idea to read the article carefully before leaping in to criticise. I know because I have made the same mistake myself. Software i.e.. programs that can be installed and de-installed were not mentioned at any point in the article. Firmware is permanent software programmed into a read-only memory. Your BIOS/UEFI is probably the most familiar piece of 'firmware' as without it you could not 'boot' your PC. Because with the exception of the BIOS/UEFI 'firmware' is mostly inaccessible and invisible to the user it is an obvious place to insert vulnerabilities.

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  • eyeopener  |  July 30 2013, 12:55PM

    @ Jewbacca It's always a good idea to read the article carefully before leaping in to criticise. I know because I have made the same mistake myself. Software i.e.. programs that can be installed and de-installed were not mentioned at any point in the article. Firmware is permanent software programmed into a read-only memory. Your BIOS/UEFI is probably the most familiar piece of 'firmware' as without it you could not 'boot' your PC. Because with the exception of the BIOS/UEFI 'firmware' is mostly inaccessible and invisible to the user it is an obvious place to insert vulnerabilities.

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  • Jewbacca  |  July 30 2013, 11:12AM

    What a load of c*ap. TiG as usual looking at proper newspapers, and whilst crowbarring in a 'local' angle manage to cock up the whole thing. There were NO 'backdoors' found in the equipment. As for vulnerabilities, you're as likely to find them in all software. Why do you think Windows Update runs every month? Stick to 'reporting' the latest Facebook news, as you are utterly incapable of anything more.

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  • TIMONLINE2010  |  July 30 2013, 10:50AM

    So where has this 'rumour' come from?

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  • Lecorche  |  July 30 2013, 10:34AM

    They could try buying British(ish). Like Stone Computers based in Stone Staffs.

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