DHS aware of imported electronics pre-loaded with malware

DHS Greg Schaffer

Testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, acting deputy secretary of the DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate Greg Schaffer admitted on the record the that DHS is aware of instances were electronics imported into the United States have been pre-loaded with malware, spyware, and other cyber-security threats, and that both the DHS and the White House have been aware of the threat for some time.

When repeatedly asked a “softball” question by Utah representative Jason Chaffetz (R) whether he was aware of instances where foreign-manufacturers software or hardware components had been intentionally embedded with security risks, Schaffer hesitatingly stated “I am aware of instances where that has happened.”

The focus of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee is more on infrastructure—systems that control power grids, water and hydro systems, emergency communications, and government response rather than consumer electronics.

Schaffer did not offer any details on the nature of the compromised technology, but did emphasize that many American-made systems use components from foreign manufacturers. The implication is that foreign agencies or interests are using international suppliers to get compromised software and equipment into the supply chain, potentially laying the groundwork for cyberattacks against U.S. infrastructure systems or even everyday consumers. The attacks could take the form of security holes that provide access to sensitive and/or classified information, or could potentially provide a foreign power the ability to cripple portions of the U.S. infrastructure, causing significant economic damage to the country.

Schaffer has an extensive background in private sector cybersecurity and managing communications infrastructure.

The White House’s recent Cyberspace Policy Review (PDF) recently hinted at the same vulnerability, noting that while consumers are most likely to be targeted by counterfeit products, supply chain attacks “might narrowly focus on particular systems and make manipulation virtually impossible to discover.”

Schaffer’s testimony before the committee was to discuss a proposal that would offer incentive for private sector organizations to share security-related information with the federal government.


YouTube beats Apple, Netflix as the most trusted brand by millennials

The popular video sharing website YouTube climbed up in an annual Mblm study, moving up from third place in 2018 and coming ahead of both Apple and Netflix in final 2019 rankings. 

These Xbox One exclusives are the definition of quality over quantity

Xbox One has a prestigious collection of handpicked titles that you can't play on other consoles. Here are the latest and greatest Xbox One exclusives, including some that are also available on PC

Feeling bored in real life? Pursue a new persona in the best open-world games

Open-world games are among the most popular in the medium. These are the best open-world games of all-time, including titles in series like Assassin's Creed, The Elder Scrolls, and The Legend of Zelda.

Blockchain does way more than power Bitcoin. Here's how it works

What is a blockchain? It was once merely an academic idea and today it's the backbone of the cryptographic industry, helping to send billions of dollars worth of digital assets all over the world.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Use one of these password managers to help protect yourself online

The internet can be a scary place, especially if you don't have a proper password manager. This guide will show you the best password managers you can get right now, including both premium and free options.

Is the 5G spectrum harmful to our health? Experts say, 'Don't freak out'

There's plenty of consumer anxiety about radiofrequency (RF) radiation, specifically around millimeter waves (mmWave) used on 5G networks, but is it based in reality? We asked the FDA to give us its official view on the subject.

Russia will ‘unplug’ from the internet as part of a cyber-defense test

Authorities across Russia are planning on unplugging the country from the global internet as part of a test of its cyber defenses. The disconnection will briefly keep all internet traffic inside the country.

These are the coolest games you can play on your Google Chrome browser right now

Not only is Google Chrome a fantastic web browser, it's also a versatile gaming platform that you can access from just about anywhere. Here are a few of our favorite titles for the platform.

Gmail adds lots of new functionality to its right-click menu

Right-click on an email in Gmail and the list of actions is pretty limited. That's about to change, though, as Google has just announced it's expanding the list of options to make its email client that little bit more useful.

Tired of paying a monthly fee for Word? The best Microsoft Office alternatives

Looking for a competent word processor that isn't Microsoft Word? Thankfully, the best alternatives to Microsoft Office offer robust features, expansive compatibility, and an all-too-familiar aesthetic. Here are our favorites.

File Transfer Protocol explained: What FTP is and what it does

FTP stands for "File Transfer Protocol," and it's used to transfer files online. Most internet users don't need it, but web developers use it constantly. Here's what FTP is, how it works, and how you can get started using it.

Make a GIF of your favorite YouTube video with these great tools

Making a GIF from a YouTube video is easier today than ever, but choosing the right tool for the job isn't always so simple. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make a GIF from a YouTube video with our two favorite online tools.

Lose the key for your favorite software? These handy tools can find it for you

Missing product keys getting you down? We've chosen some of the best software license and product key finders in existence, so you can locate and document your precious keys on your Windows or MacOS machine.