Allan recently bought a hard drive docking station from a manufacturer in China. Is it secure? Leo says the reality is that everything is made in China, or South Korea. China has become the factory to the world, and many are worried since spyware has been found in the past. The government has even warned that companies like Huawei aren't secure and could be owned by the Chinese Government. But even if they aren't, they have to follow the rules in China. So it comes down to whether you're someone spies can benefit from. It's called the "Threat model." Odds are, you aren't a target.
Dan needs to buy his son a new laptop and wants to know whether a MacBook Air or Chromebook. He'll be traveling to China for an exchange student program. He also wants to maintain his social media. Leo says that either one will work, but he should be sure to obey the rules and regulations while being a guest there. Don't try and get around China's censorship by using a VPN. That's just asking for trouble. Email is not blocked, so setting up an email publishing scheme is best.
A propaganda app by the PRC Communist party is the number one app in China. Leo says it must be quite boring.
Bloomberg published a story that China's PRC had installed a tiny chip the size of a grain of rice on all Elemental SuperMicro Motherboard, giving them access to a treasure trove of corporation and national security secrets. These boards are used widely in corporations and even the Department of Defense. Leo says the article was well researched, well sourced, but the day after it was published, everyone, including corporations where 17 unidentified sources worked, have denied it. Even the US Department of Homeland security and the UK CyberSecurity Ministry.
According to Bloomberg, China added a tiny chip, about the size of a grain of rice, to network motherboards that would allow China to Spy on corporations. The chip was discovered by Amazon Security, which notified federal authorities. The servers were created by Chinese company Elemental, and are on everything from network business servers to NAVY WARSHIPS. Investigators have discovered that the chips were installed by the PRC at the manufacturing plant. But here's the twist ... everyone is now denying it.
It wasn't that long ago that Google pulled out of China because of the country's authoritarian demands and acts of censorship. Now reports are that the company that once said "do no evil" as their slogan, is developing a special Google browser for China that will allow the country to strictly control the flow of information online. So much for doing no evil.
April's router keeps dropping her. Leo says that routers do wear out and after several years, they become unreliable. It may just be time to get a new one. But her husband doesn't want one made in China. Leo says good luck with that. TP-Link has good routers, but that's in China. There are some that are made in Taiwan. That would do the trick. Asus also makes great routers. They are also updatable using DD-WRT open source firmware.
Mike is going to China and wants to know how he can use Gmail, Facebook or Twitter. Leo says that it changes all the time depending on the social unrest that's going on. There is a Wikipedia page that will show him. One thing he can do is create a Yahoo Mail account, have Gmail fetch it, and then use that. It's a workaround but it can work. He may be able to go to the .CN versions of websites, though.
China has banned live streaming services because it's becoming difficult for the government to censor the content of it. It was estimated last year that the live streaming industry is worth $9 billion.
Earl's daughter lives in China and wants to get a new Android phone. She wants a Samsung Galaxy S5. Leo says that she should probably wait and get the Xiao Mi Note 4 in China. There's a different Galaxy S5 for every region, and if she gets an S5 in the US, it may not work in China. So if she wants an S5, she needs to get the G9009D version to be supported in China. The iPhone would also work.