Bob is considering buying a new laptop. He wants a Lenovo, but he’s worried that the company—or the Chinese government (Lenovo is a Chinese company)—might plant spyware in his new PC.
We’re all paranoid these days, and with good reason. Corporations treat your tastes, preferences, and lifestyle as valuable commodities. Governments (and not just the Chinese) gather information from everywhere for top-secret purposes. Criminals look for leaks (often created by corporations and governments) to steal your identity.
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But at this point in history, I suspect Lenovo is the least likely manufacturer to hide spyware inside your PC (not including the spyware that comes with Windows 10, of course). I’m not saying that because I think they’re more virtuous than anyone else. I’m saying it because they got caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
Back in February, security experts discovered that Lenovo had intentionally installed the arguably malicious Superfish Visual Discovery program. Lenovo had to publicly apologize, and is now facing a lawsuit over the company’s actions. The last thing Lenovo needs is a repeat scandal. Lenovo's newest PCs actually have significantly less bloatware than before.
True, the Chinese government has a very bad reputation for cyber spying. I know of at least one major American company that doesn’t let its executives take their regular laptops on business trips to China for fear that something would be planted in them. But the Chinese government very much wants Lenovo to stay in business. They’re not going to do something that could destroy the company.
These days, we all have to assume that every Internet-connected device we have, including Windows computers, are spying on us. We need to keep our passwords and sensitive files encrypted, and our antivirus programs up to date. Scan your drive regularly with a second malware detector, such as Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.
But Lenovo’s embarrassing moment in February will probably keep that company and its competitors from doing anything too extreme…at least for the present.