Audit says U.S. military workers bought vulnerable printers, cameras, computers

security
DOD auditors found $32 million in purchases of Chinese electronics deemed insecure. (Getty Images)

U.S. military employees bought $32.8 million in Lexmark printers, GoPro cameras and Lenovo computers from China in 2018 that have known security risks, according to a report from the Pentagon inspector general.

“Army and Air Force [government purchase card] holders purchased over 8,000 Lexmark printers, totaling more than $30 million for use on Army and Air Force networks,” the Department of Defense Inspector General said in the report.

The Inspector General also noted that Lexmark printers have been subjected to 20 or more vulnerabilities in the past including the storing and transmitting of sensitive network access credentials in plain text and allowing the use of malicious code on the printer. “Such vulnerabilities could allow remote attackers to use a connected Lexmark printer to conduct cyberespionage or launch a denial of service attack on a DoD network,” the IG said.

Free Daily Newsletter

Interesting read? Subscribe to FierceElectronics!

The electronics industry remains in flux as constant innovation fuels market trends. FierceElectronics subscribers rely on our suite of newsletters as their must-read source for the latest news, developments and predictions impacting their world. Sign up today to get electronics news and updates delivered to your inbox and read on the go.

An earlier Congressional report on supply chain vulnerabilities had warned that using Lexmark devices could create a supply chain vulnerability, because Lexmark has ties to the Chinese military and that country’s cyberespionage programs.

In reaction, Lexmark said in a statement sent to ZD Net that it “strongly disagreed with the representation of Lexmark” in the DOD audit. Lexmark’s association with the Chinese government is unfounded, Lexmark said.

Worries about vulnerabilities of products purchased by the military have attracted the attention of lawmakers. 

RELATED: Senate bill calls for national strategy to secure supply chains against China and others 

A bipartisan Senate bill calls for a national strategy to secure supply chains against China and others. The bill directs the Director of National Intelligence, DOD and other agencies to create a plan to increase supply chain intelligence within 180 days.

Suggested Articles

According to an article in the Hendersonville Lightning, high schools in Hendersonville, North Carolina, are outfitting helmets with sensors that measure the G…

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a battery-free underwater communication system that uses near-zero power to transmit…

A research team from Iraq and the University of South Australia have developed a sensor-based system to remotely monitor elderly people and provide urgent…