Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

3/26/2013
01:49 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Congress Curtails Government IT Purchases From China

Continuing resolution bars some government agencies from buying IT equipment from Chinese-owned or -subsidized companies without FBI or other approval.

Military Drones Present And Future: Visual Tour
Military Drones Present And Future: Visual Tour
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
The continuing resolution funding the federal government through the end of September, which is now sitting on the President's desk and ready for his signature, bars government purchases of IT equipment produced by Chinese government-owned or -subsidized companies without prior consultation with the FBI.

The bill reflects continued and rising concerns about Chinese hacking and other risks of Chinese technology. The Obama Administration recently has picked up rhetoric about Chinese hacking as reports continue to pour in about the Chinese government's connection to cyber espionage.

Specifically, the bill prohibits a short list of specific government agencies, including the Departments of Commerce and Justice, NASA and the National Science Foundation, from using funds made available as part of the continuing resolution to buy any IT unless the FBI "or other appropriate federal entity" has assessed the risk of "cyber-espionage or sabotage" that derives from the equipment being produced in connection with the Chinese government.

[ Should your company worry about Chinese hacking? Read China Hack Attacks: Play Offense Or Defense? ]

In addition, the law prohibits those agencies from using funds to buy IT systems produced, manufactured or assembled by companies or other entities owned, directed or subsidized by the Chinese government unless the head of the FBI or whatever agency is doing the assessment has both determined and reported to Congress that the acquisition is "in the national interest of the United States."

The provision could affect government purchases of technology from Chinese companies such as Huawei, ZTE and Lenovo. The House Intelligence Committee last year warned in a report about national security threats posed by Huawei and ZTE. However, the bill could also affect components built by smaller Chinese companies.

It's unclear from the text of the provision why the White House asked these particular agencies to be cautious. Other big users of IT include the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, General Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Energy, among others.

If it is signed, the bill wouldn't even represent the first time Congress has made its opinion known about U.S. government IT operations vis-à-vis China in the last two weeks. Last Monday, Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., announced that a contractor who had been working at NASA Langley was arrested with what federal agents believe to be sensitive government information. During a press conference announcing the arrest, Wolf urged NASA to temporarily shut down online sources of technical data to remove controlled documents from widely available systems.

Other tech-related provisions in the continuing resolution include specific funding and attached requirements for the Department of Homeland Security's National Protection and Programs Directorate; requirements that any tech bought under the law block pornography; funding for Department of Agriculture IT; and requirements that the CIO of USDA approve significant IT spending.

A well-defended perimeter is only half the battle in securing the government's IT environments. Agencies must also protect their most valuable data. Also in the new, all-digital Secure The Data Center issue of InformationWeek Government: The White House's gun control efforts are at risk of failure because the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' outdated Firearms Tracing System is in need of an upgrade. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Andrew Hornback
50%
50%
Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/3/2013 | 2:59:04 AM
re: Congress Curtails Government IT Purchases From China
This kind of begs the question - is there anyone else, aside from the small/boutique hardware manufacturers, that produces systems in the United States from components sourced in the United States?

Crack open most any desktop or laptop made these days and you're more likely to see a "Made in China" label... and when it comes to mobile devices, more than simply more likely.

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
Deirdre Blake
50%
50%
Deirdre Blake,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/27/2013 | 3:51:35 PM
re: Congress Curtails Government IT Purchases From China
Unfortunately, most contracting companies are so globalized that this move seems like it would be difficult/impossible to enforce; and by limiting the regulations to only specific agencies, it lacks any real teeth. Still, I suppose it sends a message to Chinese authorities that the folks in Washington are losing patience and cyber-espionage is going to start carrying a financial penalty.
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 9/25/2020
9 Tips to Prepare for the Future of Cloud & Network Security
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  9/28/2020
Malware Attacks Declined But Became More Evasive in Q2
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  9/24/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-4629
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-30
IBM WebSphere Application Server 7.0, 8.0, 8.5, and 9.0 could allow a local user with specialized access to obtain sensitive information from a detailed technical error message. This information could be used in further attacks against the system. IBM X-Force ID: 185370.
CVE-2019-17098
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-30
Use of hard-coded cryptographic key vulnerability in August Connect Wi-Fi Bridge App, Connect Firmware allows an attacker to decrypt an intercepted payload containing the Wi-Fi network authentication credentials. This issue affects: August Connect Wi-Fi Bridge App version v10.11.0 and prior version...
CVE-2020-15731
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-30
An improper Input Validation vulnerability in the code handling file renaming and recovery in Bitdefender Engines allows an attacker to write an arbitrary file in a location hardcoded in a specially-crafted malicious file name. This issue affects: Bitdefender Engines versions prior to 7.85448.
CVE-2020-5132
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-30
SonicWall SSL-VPN products and SonicWall firewall SSL-VPN feature misconfiguration leads to possible DNS flaw known as domain name collision vulnerability. When the users publicly display their organization’s internal domain names in the SSL-VPN au...
CVE-2020-15216
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-29
In goxmldsig (XML Digital Signatures implemented in pure Go) before version 1.1.0, with a carefully crafted XML file, an attacker can completely bypass signature validation and pass off an altered file as a signed one. A patch is available, all users of goxmldsig should upgrade to at least revisio...