There are concerns about plans to install Chinese-owned technology on a supercomputer used by government agencies and Australian universities.
National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) is a research facility based at the Australian National University (ANU), which provides support to organisations such as the CSIRO, Geoscience Australia and the Bureau of Meteorology. It has confirmed its plans to purchase IT software and hardware from Chinese-owned company, Lenovo, which has sparked cyber security concerns from some of the facility’s scientists.
“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,” said Peter Jennings, director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in a comment to the ABC.
This comes not long after officials at the Pentagon expressed concern about Lenovo, and recommended its products not be used in some US military facilities. Parallels have been drawn between Lenovo and the Chinese military, and the company allegedly has a history of installing spyware on its customers’ machines, according to Breitbart.
Lenovo made a statement to the ABC that the Pentagon had said there was “no directive against using” its products.
ANU also defended its plans to incorporate Lenovo products in its supercomputer, arguing that Lenovo is listed as an authorised government supplier and all of its firmware was developed in the US. According to ANU, this firmware is encrypted by a digital signature that acts as a fingerprint to prevent tampering.