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Your Chicom Hard Drive

11:18 PM, Nov 14, 2007 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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There has been much discussion regarding the threat to security from the sale of American technology companies to Chinese owners. Most recently it was the announcement that China's Huawei Technologies would attempt to purchase a stake in 3COM, which provides the Pentagon with technology to prevent cyber-attacks, that set off alarm bells (see Irwin M. Stelzer's "Selling National Security" in THE DAILY STANDARD). But it seems that American owned technology firms may be no less vulnerable to Beijing than those based in Shanghai. Here's the report from the Taipei Times:

Following findings by the Investigation Bureau that portable hard discs produced by US disk-drive manufacturer Seagate Technology that were sold in Taiwan contained Trojan horse viruses, further investigations suggested that "contamination" took place when the products were in the hands of Chinese subcontractors during the manufacturing process.

On Saturday, Seagate Technology LLC, the manufacturer of the Maxtor portable hard drive, said on its Web site (www.seagate.com) that Maxtor Basics Personal Storage 3200 hard drives sold after August could be infected with the virus....

The Investigation Bureau said the tainted portable hard drives automatically upload any information saved on the computer to Beijing Web sites without the user's knowledge.

The company does not confirm the specifics of the story, saying only that the "scenario [by which the virus is uploaded] seems unlikely"--but that won't inspire much confidence. Apparently the drives were made in Thailand, but that may just be final assembly. And given the nature of the attack, and the Beijing-based servers that received the hacked information, I don't see any reason not to take the Taiwanese report at face value. And if responsibility does lay elsewhere in the manufacturing process, it would hardly change the need to address this increasing threat to privacy and national security.

HT: China Rises