Laptops shipped by Chinese hardware giant Lenovo have been found to come with preinstalled malware that hijacks search results in favour of Lenovo’s business.
The adware, called Superfish, uses a self-signed root certificate which allows it to collect users’ data from web browsers. The certificate allowed the software to drop advertisements into browser sessions secretly.
This poses a serious security risk as hackers could generate a key to the adware’s certificate, spoofing the users into thinking they’re safe on websites such as banks.
A Lenovo rep on the company’s official forums said: “Due to some issues (browser pop up behaviour for example), with the Superfish Visual Discovery browser add-on, we have temporarily removed Superfish from our consumer systems until such time as Superfish is able to provide a software build that addresses these issues. As for units already in market, we have requested that Superfish auto-update a fix that addresses these issues.”
In 2013 it was revealed that Lenovo computers were allegedly banned from use in the British government. The ban was brought into place in the mid-2000s following lab testing by spooks which found back doors and security flaws in Lenovo hardware. Lenovo PCs and laptops have also been banned from use in the defense sectors of Australia, Canada, the United States, and New Zealand.
Lenovo has issued a statement on the matter:
“Lenovo removed Superfish from the preloads of new consumer systems in January 2015. At the same time Superfish disabled existing Lenovo machines in market from activating Superfish. Superfish was preloaded onto a select number of consumer models only. Lenovo is thoroughly investigating all and any new concerns raised regarding Superfish.”