Who is sending mysterious laptops to governors?

FBI is probing strange gifts

Who is sending unsolicited laptop computers to governors’ offices, and why?

The FBI is investigating the unexpected deliveries that were sent to governors' offices in at least 10 states, according to media reports. Investigators are trying to determine if the machines contain malware or programming that would allow someone remote access to secure networks.  

Governors in West Virginia, Vermont, Wyoming and Washington received three to five laptops each, according to the Associated Press. Shipments to governors in six other states were intercepted, according to The Inquirer.

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin received four Compaq computers in Hewlett-Packard boxes on Aug. 5, according to a report in the Charleston Gazette. His office turned the computers over to the West Virginia State Police, who are also involved in the investigation, according to the report.

HP officials are aware of the orders and said they are linked to fraud, according to the Inquirer report.

"Our expectation is that this is not a gesture of good will," said Kyle Schafer, West Virginia's chief technology officer, quoted in the Inquirer. "People don't just send you five laptops for no good reason."

Distributing the laptops might mirror similar cyberattack attempts by criminals who distribute USB devices loaded with malware, according to an Industry Standard report.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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