[cryptome] Re: Buying a A New Laptop?

  • From: Andrew Hornback <achornback@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: cryptome@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 16 Mar 2015 14:19:24 -0400

On Sun, Mar 15, 2015 at 8:42 AM, Douglas Rankine <
douglasrankine2001@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> Dear Colleagues,
>
> As you know, I have had two laptops go down the pan in the last week or
> so, so I am looking around the market at new and second hand ones.  I am
> also looking for a new one for me missus as she has a big birthday coming
> up.    My lad recommended a Lenovo, a 13” job, with a touch screen and a
> physical keyboard, which would be ideal for her...at the right price.    I
> had a look,
>
>
>
> See url:
> http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/laptops-netbooks/laptops/laptops/lenovo-yoga-3-11-6-2-in-1-silver-10108711-pdt.htm
>

Sounds like you're running down all of the various leads - I'm a Lenovo
user myself.  In a previous life, I was an IBM Field Service Engineer and I
understand the bloodlines of the Lenovo systems, specifically the
ThinkPads.

Personally, I have a small fleet of ThinkPads, a pair of T400s and an X1
Carbon.  The wife has a pair of X61s (smaller screens) and there are some
parts boxes floating around.  ThinkPad is the only way that I would go when
it comes to Lenovo's laptop lines - the professional systems are much more
solid and reliable than the non-professional systems (Yoga, IdeaPad, etc.).


but as I was checking it out, I discovered that there are supposed to be
> some security concerns.  For instance there is a story that our most
> respected security and intelligence services, don’t recommend them because
> of hardware and software “back doors” being inserted in them so that the
> Chinese government can keep tabs on the users...(they are made in China by
> a Chinese Company owned by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, apparently) I
> don’t know how true this is and whether the NSA would prefer us westerners
> to purchase US ones with “western”  back doors in them...or whether it is
> just a rumour.
>
>
>
> See url:
> http://www.geek.com/chips/spy-agencies-shun-lenovo-finding-backdoors-built-into-the-hardware-1563801/
>

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenovo

Lenovo also has a headquarters in North Carolina, USA, not just China.

As far as the "backdoors" go...

http://securityaffairs.co/wordpress/16748/hacking/spy-agencies-ban-on-lenovo-pcs-due-to-backdoor-vulnerabilities.html

http://securityaffairs.co/wordpress/5889/security/china-made-us-military-chip-security-backdoor-or-debugging-functionality.html

http://securityaffairs.co/wordpress/1198/cyber-crime/hardware-qualification-a-must-in-a-cyber-strategy.html

The basis for the "rumour" with Lenovo hardware comes from a researcher at
Cambridge, assumed to be working at the behest of GCHQ.  Honestly, the
links above raise one question that I'm not sure that any of us have a
question for - "What tools do we have to qualify the hardware we buy?"

I already have a Samsung smart tv which is supposed to have spyware on it.
> I didn’t find out until after I bought it and I don’t know if it has...or
> if it has, how to get rid of it.  Apparently, “anonymous” user information
> is being  collected for marketing purposes, and is completely harmless...
> J.
>

Amount of harm that it's capable of doing is directly proportional to the
amount of data that it's sending down the wire, who's aggregating it and
what their policies are.  I don't personally have a Smart TV, but I'd be
watching to see what kind of data it was putting down the wire and either
gating it or filtering it out.


> I didn’t buy a tv to be spied on without my permission, but there you are,
> such is the honesty and integrity of democratic, liberal capitalism.  We
> even have to purchase our spyware these days....it is becoming
> mandatory...like a television license.
>
>
>
> So, anyone got any ideas on how I should proceed, any recommendations,
> will be most welcome... J.
>

At the end of the day, I'd recommend the Lenovo X1 Carbon for the missus.
It's a great machine, light, capable and should be more than capable for
anything she's going to do.  :)

--- A

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