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Friday, August 10, 2012

Huawei and Cyber Espionage, a question of trust ?


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Chinese telecoms equipment suppliers have previously been criticized for allegedly being security risks. Huawei is working with British spooks to prove that it has no backdoors in its products which would allow Chinese agents to snuffle Her Majesty's secrets...

The U.S. and Australia have made clear their distrust of one of the world’s biggest telecoms company. The Australian government, for instance, banned the company from participating in bids for its national broadband network due to potential spying threats. Huawei, which has grown to become one of today’s dominant telecommunications equipment companies, is likewise constantly under threat because of what some might call China-bashing.

Over the past ten years or so, Chinese telecoms firms such as Huawei and ZTE, another telecoms-equipment provider, have expanded from their vast home market to become global players. Huawei is becoming an increasingly powerful global player, capable of going head-to-head with the best in intensely competitive markets.

Several big Chinese firms, including ZTE and China Mobile, a giant mobile operator, have attracted scrutiny. But thanks to its size and its international reach it is Huawei that gets most attention.

But according to the Economist, the centre is being used to persuade Q that equipment from the manufacturer that runs it can be trusted. GCHQ has a handy base near by. Apparenly anyone who is anyone is riding a cock horse to Banbury cross to see a Chinese company with a Western gloss.What is interesting is that Huawei staff have UK security clearances and some of them used to work for GCHQ, so the relationship in Blighty is very close.

Even Huawei suggests a proactive approach to security. “Believe no one and check everything,” says John Suffolk, former CIO of the British government and now Huawei’s global cyber-security officer. 

However, experts say that security flaws are difficult to find, and can sometimes be subtly embedded in the code, and possibly included by accident. As such, doubts remain.

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