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U.S. Suspects Contaminated Foreign-Made Components Threaten Cyber Security

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- Some foreign-made computer components are being manufactured to make it easier to launch cyber attacks on U.S. companies and consumers, a security official at the the Department of Homeland Security said.

"I am aware of instances where that has happened," said Greg Schaffer, who is the Acting Deputy Undersecretary National Protection and Programs Director at the DHS.

Schaffer did not say where specifically these components are coming from or elaborate on how they could be manufactured in such a way as to facilitate a cyber attack.

But Schaffer's comment confirms that the U.S. government believes some electronics manufacturers have included parts in products that could make U.S. consumers and corporations more vulnerable to targeted cyber attacks.

A device tampered with prior to distribution or sale could act as a "Trojan horse" in the opening wave of an international cyberwar. Contaminated products could be used to jeopardize the entire network.

The admission by Schaffer came out Thursday after repeated questioning from Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on cyber threats.

Such attacks are difficult to detect and many go unnoticed. Cyber tactics have changed and many hackers just want to steal information without incident. Cyber thieves are going after personal information such as credit card numbers or target corporations and trade secrets.

Many in Congress have pointed to foreign governments as the source of many recent cyber attacks, although the administration has yet to call out any one nation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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