CHINESE COMPUTER FIRM Lenovo has been banned from supplying hardware to the networks of the intelligence and defence services of the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, according to a report.
The news was exposed in an investigation by the Australian Financial Review (AFR) published over the weekend, which found that the hardware maker is on a security blacklist kept by the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, known collectively as the Five Eyes.
The AFR said in its review that the ban was introduced in the mid-2000s after intensive testing of Lenovo equipment, which allegedly documented "backdoor" hardware and "firmware" vulnerabilities in the firm's chips. The vulnerabilities were thought to enable foreign intelligence services to access the machines without the user's knowledge.
The AFR claims that the ban doesn't include computers used in general government networks, however.
When we asked Lenovo about the Five Eyes blacklist, a spokesperson said it "has not received word of any sort of a restriction of sales" and thus is not in a position to respond to our questions.
"Lenovo continues to have a strong relationship with government customers, so the claims being made are new to us," the firm added. "We are looking into this situation closely and we'll be sure to share updates when available."
Lenovo isn't the only computer firm to encounter trouble with western governments. Huawei, another Chinese electronics firm is under review in the UK due to concerns about the security of its network hardware and services in a British cyber security centre.
In an investigation called for by the UK Parliament Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), the firm's Cyber Security Evaluation Centre - called the Cell - failed to provide sufficient proof that it is protecting UK telecoms, thus leaving them potentially vulnerable to cyber attack.
Lenovo has released another statement since the news on Monday, saying it has "no additional comment on recent reports in the Australia Financial Review".
Lenovo also insisted on highlighting the public statement by the Australia Department of Defence, which on its website states, "This reporting is factually incorrect. There is no Department of Defence ban on the Lenovo Company or their products; either for classified or unclassified systems." µ
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