Lenovo links questioned
Some experts are concerned about plans to install Chinese technology on one of Australia’s most powerful supercomputers.
The National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) at the Australian National University provides vital support to the CSIRO, Geoscience Australia and the Bureau of Meterology.
The NCI has announced it is buying new IT software and hardware from Lenovo, a Chinese-owned company.
US Government officials have allegedly expressed concerns about Lenovo in recent weeks, calling for the company’s products not to be used in particular military facilities. The story originated from The Free Beacon, which is known for its aggressive, ideologically-driven reporting presented from a staunchly conservative political direction.
But still, scientists at NCI are reportedly worried about the move.
Peter Jennings, the director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, says they would have good reason to be alarmed.
“I think what we really need to know here is what steps did the ANU take to satisfy itself that these systems don't have installed computer back doors that can later be used by outside actors to steal Australian Intellectual property,” Mr Jennings said.
Lenovo says the Pentagon has “no directive against using” their products.
“In addition to being a long-standing customer, the US Government has approved five Lenovo merger and acquisition transactions over the past 10 years, after conducting thorough security reviews,” the company said in a statement.
“The Pentagon's chief information officer, Terry Halvorsen, has publicly stated in the past that there is no directive against using Lenovo products within the Department of Defence and that any such directive would be contrary to well-established US Government procurement law and policy.”
The Australian Cyber Security Centre Threat report has acknowledged the very real risk posed by foreign operators.
The ANU says it has followed stringent security protocols for the NCI.
“ANU is fully satisfied with all due diligence associated with the decision to appoint XENON Systems to supply a Lenovo NeXtScale system for the NCI's facilities,” the university told the ABC.
Lenovo is an authorised government supplier, the ANU said, adding; “Lenovo demonstrated to NCI that all of the company's firmware was developed in the United States.”
“The firmware is encrypted by a digital signature which acts as a fingerprint to prevent tampering,” it said.
The Washington Free Beacon is known for its aggressive, ideologically-driven reporting presented from a staunchly conservative political direction.