Feeds

Blunkett to press for cyberwar probe of BT's Chinese kit

Kill button fear

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Exclusive David Blunkett is to press national security officials to impose a programme of ongoing testing on equipment BT bought from Huawei, the networking manufacturer with allegedly close links to the Chinese military.

The former Home Secretary plans to raise concerns at meetings "in the next two weeks" that the equipment could be remotely controlled or sabotaged in a future cyber attack, crippling critical UK communications.

He argued that though there might be little perceived threat at present, BT had "bought equipment from companies that may have an interest somewhere down the track". Although he didn't name BT during his speech at the Infosec conference in London this morning, he exclusively confirmed the reference in conversation with The Register afterwards.

Huawei is a major supplier to the 21CN national network backbone upgrade, which is scheduled for completion in 2013.

Blunkett argued today that cyber security must be improved ahead of the 2012 Olympics.

"You would have spot checks and auditing," he said, when asked directly about BT's Huawei deal. "I think it's something our big companies need to recognise."

BT declined to comment on Blunkett's call.

During his speech, Blunkett also criticised "colleagues" who had taken a role in approving such sensitive deals and then taken jobs with "communications" companies. The comment was an apparent oblique reference to Patricia Hewitt, who is now a non-executive director of BT and was in charge of the Department of Trade and Industry when it waved through Huawei's involvement in 21CN in 2005.

When asked about the reference, a smiling Blunkett described it as "very oblique".

Blunkett's plan to press for "proper monitoring and review procedures" to scrutinise the Huawei equipment follows soon after reports that the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee raised fears over potential hidden vulnerabilities at a Cabinet meeting in January. Alex Allen reportedly said intelligence chiefs believe measures taken by BT to secure 21CN "are not effective against deliberate attack by China".

Huawei denies ties to the Chinese military, although its chief executive is a former People's Liberation Army (PLA) telecoms research chief. Last year it was top of a Pentagon list of Chinese technology firms with close links to the PLA.

The phone was not being answered at Huawei UK prior to publication.

Last week the Cabinet Office told The Register it believed the UK was "well ahead of the game" in preparing for a cyber attack, compared to other EU member states. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.