China evaluating alternatives to IBM servers to prevent surveillance

With a view to prevent surveillance by the United States, China has reportedly started evaluating alternatives to IBM servers for use in its banks.

According to a Bloomberg report, the Chinese government is taking a cautious look at its reliance on IBM servers in the banking sector, which they believe may be used for surveillance by the United States and could pose a risk to the nation's financial security.

Government agencies such as the People's Bank of China, and the Ministry of Finance have recommended that banks start using alternative server hardware developed by local vendors, as devices made by US companies have been reported to contain backdoors right from the start or after interception by the NSA. People familiar with the matter have chosen to stay anonymous as the information is not available for review publicly.

Although IBM has been a major manufacturer of servers in the past, the company has sold part of its server division to China's Lenovo which makes the country's steps look a little less thought out. However, with all the speculation and reports regarding NSA's surveillance program by Edward Snowden, one can never be too sure.

Source: Bloomberg | Image via Rediff

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11 Comments

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You'd think with all these backdoor rumors, that SOMEONE would be able to prove they exist? There's always some researcher that is willing to take the time to look for them, even on custom silicon you can debug the bus and look for odd data

neufuse said,
You'd think with all these backdoor rumors, that SOMEONE would be able to prove they exist? There's always some researcher that is willing to take the time to look for them, even on custom silicon you can debug the bus and look for odd data

yes, but it would be impractical to verify that the firmware of every machine is indeed the exact same firmware that was tested and checked by security researchers. The default firmware of these devices is unlikely to contain a backdoor.

however, if a bank orders 1000servers and only a handful of them have been modified to include a backdoor before shipping, it's unlikely that anybody will figure.

otherwise I agree with you. There is probably no NSA backdoor on Windows/linux/osx/Cisco's iOS and other proprietary OSes. The NSA doesn't need any backdoor, since every OS has its flaws, the NSA prefers to rely on 0days.

link8506 said,

yes, but it would be impractical to verify that the firmware of every machine is indeed the exact same firmware that was tested and checked by security researchers. The default firmware of these devices is unlikely to contain a backdoor.

however, if a bank orders 1000servers and only a handful of them have been modified to include a backdoor before shipping, it's unlikely that anybody will figure.

otherwise I agree with you. There is probably no NSA backdoor on Windows/linux/osx/Cisco's iOS and other proprietary OSes. The NSA doesn't need any backdoor, since every OS has its flaws, the NSA prefers to rely on 0days.

my point is, people claim all windows versions have a back door, yet no one has ever found it. That sound be the pretty simple one. And I'm not talking about certificates for RSA or anything else that people want to point at and scream there it is. I mean a true verification that something is there... in a mass released program like windows, where you can checksum the heck out of it, no one has ever found it

neufuse said,

my point is, people claim all windows versions have a back door, yet no one has ever found it. That sound be the pretty simple one. And I'm not talking about certificates for RSA or anything else that people want to point at and scream there it is. I mean a true verification that something is there... in a mass released program like windows, where you can checksum the heck out of it, no one has ever found it


indeed, it's very unlikely that there would be a backdoor in Windows.

all these NSA leaks have shown that the NSA uses a lot of ways to infiltrate its targets, but none of them involve a backdoor in Windows.

considering that US government agencies massively rely on Windows, it would be dangerous to have a backdoor that could be found by enemies.

nickcruz said,
It don't matter because there are so many other ways to spy... for Christ sake aren't IBM servers made in China?

No, Virginia is their main plant for high end servers. They use to make consumer lines in china

neufuse said,
No, Virginia is their main plant for high end servers. They use to make consumer lines in china

xseries servers (intel/amd) have been made in China for many years, possibly pseries are made elsewhere, but that's not what the Chinese government are talking about.

I wouldn't be surprised to find NSA backdoors in the IBM BIOS and Microsoft Windows Operating systems though.