A top Homeland Security official has acknowledged that computer hardware and software is already being imported to the United States preloaded with spyware and security-sabotaging components.
The remarks by Greg Schaffer, the Department of Homeland Security’s acting deputy undersecretary for national protection and programs, came Thursday during a tense exchange at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The panel is considering an Obama administration proposal to tighten monitoring and controls on computer equipment imported for critical government and communications infrastructure.
Schaffer didn’t say whether the equipment he was talking about included end-user consumer tech like retail laptops, DVDs and media players.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz questioned Schaffer, asking how are we going to fight this back?
Schaffer began by stating how important the issue is to President Barack Obama. But Chaffetz cut him off and, at Schaffer’s request, broadly restated the question to extend it beyond government infrastructure:
“Are you aware of any component software (or) hardware coming to the United States of America that already have security risks embedded into those components?”
Schaffer paused for about 10 seconds before replying:
“I am aware that there have been instances where that has happened.”
You can watch the exchange here, beginning at 51:47:
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