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False Lenovo security report only strengthens world's top PC maker

Rob Enderle | Aug. 5, 2013
A report that Western nations deemed Lenovo PCs to be insecure was quickly kiboshed this week. columnist Rob Enderle smells a rat and suspects it's only a matter of time before the source is outed (and unemployed). Meanwhile, Lenovo can relax and tout its security and stability.

Granted, since this was a false story, there's some risk the reporter would "out" that executive, in which case he'd likely lose his job. But folks often don't think through the downside to their comments. Look at Anthony Weiner's communications director.

With Execs in China and U.S., Lenovo Would Be Folly to Mess Around
Lenovo was a bad target. The company splits its leadership, with executives in the U.S. and China. As we saw, the NSA ordered American-led companies to compromise their security and not talk about it. Yes, the same could be done to companies wholly in China. However you can't be ordered to effectively not tell yourself. With leadership in both countries, the odds that U.S. or Chinese leadership would face criminal charges should machines be compromised by an overseas government are almost certain.

Chinese executives would therefore be heavily motivated to report this action by the U.S., and U.S. executives would be equally motivated to report should China do this. Both would know that such actions would cripple the companies and land peers in jail. Even the mere attempt faces the virtual certainty of being leaked or reported, due to the risks involved.

This, mind you, is very different than a company headquartered solely headquartered or manufacturing goods in the U.S. or China. In these cases, either the firm or the manufacturing entity could be successfully compromised and ordered under National Security laws not to report, as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft were.

Lenovo also has David Roman, one of the top CMOs in the world, and he can now market this relative strength against the NSA disclosure and make his U.S. competitors appear untrustworthy in world markets.

Coming up with this "story" about Lenovo was foolish. It showcased a unique strength, rather than a weakness, suggesting that whoever fabricated this story really didn't think it through. There's an old saying about not throwing rocks if you live in a glass house. That applies here.

That Which Doesn't Kill Lenovo Will Make It Stronger
Someone gave Lenovo one heck of an early Christmas present. Given that this story was sourced in Australia, it was unlikely sourced by a high-level politician or executive in a competing firm. It's likely that the source will eventually be discovered, with serious implications for his or her career; the disclosure involves several intelligence organizations and feels like a leak. These organizations aren't particularly understanding when it comes to leaks, true or not.

In the end, it does showcase a unique strength that Lenovo has. While I think compromising a PC in the way that the false report indicated is very unlikely, particularly in secure organizations, if you are concerned, then Lenovo could be the best choice, not the one to avoid.


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