Confirming years of warnings from government and private security experts, a top Homeland Security official has acknowledged that computer hardware and software is already being imported to the United States preloaded with spyware and security-sabotaging components.
The remarks by Greg Schaffer, the Department of Homeland Security’s acting deputy undersecretary for national protection and programs, came Thursday during a tense exchange at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The panel is considering an Obama administration proposal to tighten monitoring and controls on computer equipment imported for critical government and communications infrastructure.
Schaffer didn’t say whether the equipment he was talking about included end-user consumer tech like retail laptops, DVDs and media players. If so, his comments, first reported Friday morning by Fast Company, would be the first time the United States has publicly confirmed that foreign consumer technology is arriving in the country already loaded with nasty bugs like key-logging software, botnet components and even software designed to defeat security programs installed on the same machine.
DHS did not respond to requests to clarify Schaffer’s remarks.
Much of it is coming from the Chinese. How nice of us to so business with a hostile enemy that has a major role in our web infrastructure. The cyber war with communist China prompted the Pentagon to create a Cyber Command in response.
The threat from the ChiComs can range from breaching classified information to an attack on our electronic and power grids.
The world-wide dependence on computer technology can have disastrous consequences. Sabotage of computer servers will bring communications, banking, security, and commuter transportation to a screeching halt. U.S. cyber defense strategy had better be prepared for the possibilty of a real shooting war.