Imported hardware entering U.S. with hidden malware

By on July 11, 2011, 10:00 AM

A top Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official has admitted that software and hardware components imported to the U.S. are being deliberately preloaded with spyware and malware. The revelation was made in a testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, where acting deputy undersecretary of the DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate Greg Schaffer told Rep. Jason Chaffetz that he's aware of instances when this has happened.

Schaffer was discussing an Obama-backed proposal to tighten monitoring on computer equipment imported for critical government and communications infrastructure. He didn't elaborate on where these components are coming from, or if consumer electronics like smartphones and laptops have been affected, but clearly supply chain risk management is an issue that the government is focused on amid a rise in cyber threats.

It's unclear how widespread the issue really is. There have been cases in the past where software and hardware components ship out of factories infected with malware, but they are generally considered unintentional, originated by an infected machine from within the company. What Schaffer suggests is an intentional and possibly targeted attack sponsored by foreign governments to get a hold of classified information.

While the threat of a contaminated supply chain may be real, poor security measures have also played a role in the recent wave of cyber attacks on large U.S. companies and government agencies.

User Comments: 10

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example1013 said:

I like the picture. I don't like buying a hard drive that's already infected.

Guest said:

Most are already pre-infected with Microsoft Windows.

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

Guest said:

Most are already pre-infected with Microsoft Windows.

Probably because no one wants to waste their time to write a virus for Linux. It just doesn't pay to try and crash 14 computers.

..and before all the Linux fanboys nerd rage and explain how Linux is blah blah blah...It was a joke, you know, humor..try it sometime.

UnknownSky said:

Glad I don't keep factory for long :] and honestly I'm sure this has been going on FOREVER.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

"Hey, we're flexible. Pearl Harbor didn't work out so we got you with tape decks."

Rasta211 said:

I'd say Norton software has its dirty little hands on every new computer sold in America and Canada.

Lokalaskurar Lokalaskurar said:

Guest said:

Most are already pre-infected with Microsoft Windows.

Hahaha! That's why you go Linux I guess.

I'd be sad to open a shiny new laptop only to discover that it has turned into a malware-nest while I wasn't looking. And besides, I thought these 'unintentionally' infected PC's were somehow checked. Guess I was wrong.

fpsgamerJR62 said:

Memo to the Department of Homeland Security - if you are worried about malware-infested computer hardware most notably USB sticks, external hard drives, memory cards and every other digital device with built-in flash storage, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out which country or countries are the most prolific manufacturers of such devices.

Guest said:

"Most are already pre-infected with Microsoft Windows" -Guest

-I love people like this that go around just spreading hate, haha. Get over yourself don't have to use or like windows but millions and millions of people around the world use windows based computers every day to conduct business and provide the cozy little life you have where you have nothing better to do than go around and make comments not even related to the original topic. Maybe an attempt at humor...but still off topic...

Say you are being serious...ok, so you're right, Windows is garbage..perhaps you can provide the link or website to where I can get the OS you designed and wrote....??????? I'm assuming its 'better' than windows of course....

w3b0n said:

someone is mad bro ^

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