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The Military China Politics

US Nuclear Lab Removes Chinese Tech 125

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-it-out-of-here dept.
Rambo Tribble writes "Reuters reports that Los Almos National Laboratory has removed switches produced by Chinese firm H3C, which once had ties to Huawei. This appears to be a step taken to placate a nervous Congress, rather in response to any detected security issues. From the article: 'Switches are used to manage data traffic on computer networks. The exact number of Chinese-made switches installed at Los Alamos, how or when they were acquired, and whether they were placed in sensitive systems or pose any security risks, remains unclear. The laboratory - where the first atomic bomb was designed - is responsible for maintaining America's arsenal of nuclear weapons. A spokesman for the Los Alamos lab referred inquiries to the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration, or NNSA, which declined to comment.'"
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US Nuclear Lab Removes Chinese Tech

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  • by wvmarle (1070040) on Monday January 07, 2013 @01:35PM (#42506735)

    If they don't want made-in-China equipment, what are the alternatives? I don't think that doing without is much of an option.

  • by AndyKron (937105) on Monday January 07, 2013 @01:44PM (#42506849)
    The option would be to have a US company build them for 10X the cost plus the usual 1000% kickback. /s
  • by boulat (216724) on Monday January 07, 2013 @01:47PM (#42506893)

    And the 10x the cost is worth every penny. Cisco and Juniper routers and switches are the backbone of many serious enterprises. Serious about security and performance. I don't know of any Chinese product that is worth spending money on.

  • Trusted Foundry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Scot Seese (137975) on Monday January 07, 2013 @01:51PM (#42506937)

    They will most likely be replaced with equipment provided by vendors who are on the U.S. military's "Trusted Foundry" schedule. It doesn't matter if half the chips in those "Trusted Foundry" switches are manufactured in China - as a result of careful research, you can be "reasonably" sure they don't contain backdoors or malicious code.

    "Reasonably."

  • by sjames (1099) on Monday January 07, 2013 @01:52PM (#42506963) Homepage

    Cisco is made in China. They just charge Made in America prices and pocket the difference.

  • Re:Trusted Foundry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shoten (260439) on Monday January 07, 2013 @02:18PM (#42507321)

    They will most likely be replaced with equipment provided by vendors who are on the U.S. military's "Trusted Foundry" schedule. It doesn't matter if half the chips in those "Trusted Foundry" switches are manufactured in China - as a result of careful research, you can be "reasonably" sure they don't contain backdoors or malicious code.

    "Reasonably."

    There's another factor in this. A company like Huawei (founded by former members of the PRA, specifically ones from their cyber warfare capability) or H3C (owned by HP as a subsidiary, but otherwise entirely Chinese, top-to-bottom) can easily be argued to have interests that align with China. Cisco, on the other hand, is an American-founded company with American management.

    If a Chinese national in China puts some nastiness into a switch/router/espresso machine that is then deployed in a sensitive location in the USA, well, it'll make a stink, but nobody will be all THAT shocked either, as the people behind it will be acting in their own nation's interests. Furthermore, they do not have the same market position in the West, and thus have less to lose economically. But if Cisco does this, they are really in deep trouble. I guarantee that the upper and middle management would have to prove their lack of knowledge of it. And that's a losing proposition right there: either you can't prove you knew about/controlled it (in which case you are now on the hook for espionage and other nasty things) or you successfully prove that you have no real control over your own products. At that point, you've proven either that you will screw your own customers AND countrymen, or that you really have no way of keeping your underlings from doing the same. So Cisco has an enormous incentive to make sure that no hanky-panky goes on at their manufacturing facilities, wherever they may be.

  • by Spy Handler (822350) on Monday January 07, 2013 @02:21PM (#42507369) Homepage Journal

    for opening up China to trade. (granted he thought he was doing good by dividing the Communist bloc and weakening the Soviets)

    Free unrestricted trade is NOT a 100% universally good thing, no matter how much our glorious corporations and econ professors tell us so.

  • by khallow (566160) on Monday January 07, 2013 @02:22PM (#42507371)

    for a successful and perpetually unwinnable cold war.

    The last cold war was winnable. We know because the US-side won it (and squandered that victory in a way that probably will be talked about for centuries). But while I pointed that out, it's not the point of a cold war. The point of a cold war is to slowly resolve conflicts without sinking into a hot, nuclear war.

  • Re:Trusted Foundry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by johanw (1001493) on Monday January 07, 2013 @02:30PM (#42507487)
    Cisco already made backdoors in some products we know of (the recent hazzle about their IP-phones). And they won't even fix some of them. Unless you're connected with the Dalai Lama I think you're much safer with Chinese hardware than with American. At least the Chinese don't give a damn if I download movies for free.
  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Monday January 07, 2013 @02:33PM (#42507507)

    Hardened Cisco switches.

    Most Cisco switches are made by Foxconn in China and Mexico. They are also opening a factory in Russia.

  • by kelemvor4 (1980226) on Monday January 07, 2013 @02:46PM (#42507683)

    If they don't want made-in-China equipment, what are the alternatives? I don't think that doing without is much of an option.

    I think the concern was specifically with Huawei and the recent hubub surrounding that outfit. Probably only for the reason you are alluding to. If there are any switches manufactured in the US, then I think it would be prudent to use those for high value operations like this one. Actually, if there weren't any - I think the needs of this particular operation would warrant the government manufacturing their own. Control of our nuclear arsenal is somewhat important ;).

  • by Pinky's Brain (1158667) on Monday January 07, 2013 @02:51PM (#42507753)

    Sure, break all the WTO agreements and see if SA keeps buying US bonds ... a country with energy and food independence can do whatever the fuck it wants with it's trade policies, the US not so much.

  • L-o-o-o-ng overdue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Monday January 07, 2013 @03:02PM (#42507895)

    Hardware and chips are about the most obvious attack vector for USA defense hardware there is. I seriously doubt that more than half of our radio transmission equipment would work 15 minutes into a conflict with China, since this too is an obvious weak point. I expect that hardware generated viruses would take out quite a bit of our tactical grids as well. It's what I would do, if I were them.

    Bottom line. We can't buy *ANY* defense equipment from overseas, directly or indirectly, without increasing security risks significantly.

    Not that anyone cares, of course. Politicians just want to reduce costs. So do contractors and subcontractors. Monitoring all this costs money and nobody wants to be accused of "regulation" or being against globalization, and so we seal our own eventual military doom.

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Monday January 07, 2013 @04:40PM (#42509419)

    I've heard similar figures as well. The overhead for building in the US isn't as huge as you'd think. Actually, the overhead for many alternatives to cost-saving measures (like illegal immigrant workers in lieu of Americans) isn't as high as we've all been lead to believe.

Often statistics are used as a drunken man uses lampposts -- for support rather than illumination.

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