-Tom Lidikay


     FBI director Chris Wray expressed concerns during a hearing Tuesday, stating, “We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks.”

Members of the top intelligence agencies in the United States from the CIA, NSA, and FBI, weighed in early this week against the two Chinese cellular device manufacturers, citing concerns about espionage.


What is the truth in this?

As most in the technology profession know, compromised hardware direct from manufacturers is not a new concept:

compromised android software pre-installed on phones

Malware infected USB devices

Fake 2 TB hard drive only has 128 MB of storage


And the motivations of the chinese government have been difficult to determine in the past.

So it wouldn’t be completely unwarranted to cast a tiny bit of doubt toward any hardware manufacturers direction, including giants such as Intel, HP, Samsung, Apple. All of them manufacture in china, as well.

But, I have to be the one to question the intelligence agencies motivations, as their list of exploited hardware is a lengthy one:

CIA exploit for hijacked cisco hardware

CIA exploits for most popular operatings systems, Samsung televisions

NSA ANT catalog for exploit devices

“Undetectable” NSA hard drive malware

CIA exploit for home D-link and Linksys devices

NSA backdoor malware for windows machines


All of this becomes a massive problem, of course, when people they didn’t intend to give access to, get access.

I could write about the massive security holes the U.S intelligence agencies have created for network defenders to fix all day.


Can we trust them?

Well, about as much as you can trust any hardware vendor. If any vendor decides to hide an exploit in their product, we don’t have a whole lot of recourse for that scenario. Hardware level attacks are hard to detect, and harder to patch.

The best advice I can give is to use your better judgement. Buying cheap hardware may save you money in the short term, but may cost you in the future. China based hardware companies have done alot to damage trust in them.  But, take this advisory from U.S. Intelligence with a grain of salt, as their motivations are not entirely altruistic either.