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Lexmark employees want to block Apex acquisition

May 24, 2016

LexmarkLogo_RGB_300The workforce is concerned about National security and hacking.

Wirth Consulting have reported that they are in receipt of a copy of a letter sent to President Obama by a group named “Lexmark International for Ethical Conduct”, requesting that the President blocks the planned acquisition of Lexmark International by Apex Technology. Citing U.S. national security as a concern, the group said that this would be compromised. The apexlogoacquisition has to be approved by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment and has been but the group state that “The overall risk to (U.S.) national security is real, immeasurable and unpreventable unless the sale of Lexmark to a Chinese firm is disallowed.”

The letter is reported to be on behalf of 13,000 employees but is not signed by an individual. It requests the President to “intervene and block the sale of …Lexmark International to the Chinese firm Apex Technology…this sale should be disallowed due to extreme national security risks.” The letter also states that “unlike older analog copiers, because Lexmark copier/MFP/printers are “smart” digital copier/MFPs that are controlled by a PC operating system, they are vulnerable to hacking, noting, for instance, that they make a digital copy of every scanned document before printing it or transmitting it via fax or email; this stored information is vulnerable to being accessed by unauthorized user”.

In addition the employees state that “Apex will own hardware copyrights to Lexmark MFPs, they will have access to all device firmware source code, and have access to all source code for Lexmark workflow software,” and notes that “Lexmark also owns more than a dozen software companies whose workflow software is used by many thousands of companies’ document-workflow environments that include Lexmark MFPs. These software companies include Readsoft, which markets business-automation software, such as software for processing invoices”.

Other concerns are that Lexmark MFPs were used extensively by the “U.S. Department of Defence (DOD), U.S. Pentagon, U.S. National Security Agency, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Homeland Security Agency, U.S. Transportation Security Agency (TSA), and U.S. Special Operations Command (the unified command for the worldwide use U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force special operations), as well as U.S. state and local governments”.

The letter went on to say, in bold ink, that “Allowing a communist country access to Lexmark hardware and firmware allows them direct access ‘behind the firewall’ to any of these offices,” adding “Should any company (or government) have access to our hardware PCBA designs or firmware source code, they could easily install malicious code, viruses, or malware into these MFPs” and that “there would be no way to detect this malicious code or prevent wide-scale digital virus infections.”

The writers claim that the acquisition would lay bare companies from the private sector like banking, healthcare, and education as well as “most Fortune 500 companies.” Reinforcing their argument, the employees reminded the President that the DOD will not purchase Chinese Lenovo laptops because of national security concerns and said that “Lexmark MFPs have the same potential for harm as a determined hacker with unrestricted LAN (local area network) access that is sitting in the (U.S.) NSA (National Security Agency) offices.” They also claim that “older Lexmark MFP generations, that are in the field but are no longer being sold, specifically those code named SHaFT and Homestretch, are particularly susceptible to hacking,” due to the use of older technology like LINUX, saying that “Lexmark’s LINUX kernel is posted publicly as is required by the LINUX community.”

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