Chinese firm hits back at cyberspy claims
Huawei welcomes UK.gov backdoor probe
Exclusive Chinese networking giant Huawei is battling suggestions it could be in collusion with the Beijing government and could cause massive disruption to UK communications in a future cyber conflict.
Concerns have been raised at Cabinet level by senior intelligence officials over the presence of the firm's equipment at the centre of BT's 21CN network backbone upgrade. They particularly fear an undetectable "kill switch" that could disable critical communications if relations with China seriously deteriorate.
Huawei's research headqurters
Similar cybersecurity disquiet has recently frustrated Huawei's progress in India, a massive and growing market for networking equipment. Reports also emerged last year that the Australian intelligence establishment was investigating the firm's involvement in national broadband upgrade work.
Official fears over Huawei's equipment are typically founded on the firm's origins. Cybersecurity hawks point to its unusual private ownership structure and opaque accounting as evidence of its alleged government ties. The firm was founded in 1988 by Ren Zhengfei, a former People's Liberation Army technology research chief.
Today, in an email exchange with The Register, Huawei pointedly hit back at suggestions of a link. "Huawei provides commercial public use telecoms equipment," it said. "It has NO financial and research links to the Chinese military and government."
The firm has more than 87,000 employees, and says more than 40 per cent of them work in research and development.
It continued: "The allegation is totally unfounded. Huawei is a 100 per cent privately held global company owned entirely by its employees. No government or government-linked-organizations have any ownership stake in the company.
"Like other top vendors, Huawei participates in government's open biddings, and Chinese government related sales accounted for only 0.5 per cent in 2007."
Nevertheless, Whitehall concerns over BT's Huawei equipment recently received political backing from David Blunkett. The former Home Secretary told The Register he planned to press ministers for an ongoing programme of government security auditing. Blunkett's office today said the meeting had gone ahead, but declined to discuss its outcome ahead of the government's forthcoming cybersecurity strategy.
A spokesman for the Cabinet Office also declined to comment. BT does not publicly discuss the security of its infrastrucure.
A well-placed source in the UK broadband sector scoffed at suggestions officials could feasibly monitor potential threats hidden inside Chinese equipment. "Huawei kit is everywhere," he said. "It's about a third of the cost of their competitors, who make theirs in China anyway."
Next page: The enemy is everywhere
I bet Huawei kit would not have been included...
..if they were Russian.
One point about Huawei's competitors: Whilst their hardware is made in China or elsewhere in SE Asia, their software is typically produced at home.
the beyound IT view
You all only see what have happened on your part and the IT part but the Chinese part.
When you buy a bargain like that, do you know how many rural labor that moved into cities works 10 hours or more non-stop, on the stream line? And how much they earn?
When you buy those bargains you are creating market disorder for the future and you are helping the Chinese gov to make their flawed stats and economic victory at the cost of both environment and morality look better.
Maybe I am trolling, I am sorry, but just think about it.
Nice story but poor reporting
"at Cabinet level by senior intelligence officials ", remember as a journalist, you should prefer facts and avoid rumour. I suspect that your story stems from a number of vendors who have briefed against Huwaei who were upset that they won a nice chunk of CN21. If you ask around, you will find that in certain places, particularly the far east, Huwaei offer products at a fraction over costs into what are perceived as strategic accounts. At a margin that few western vendors can compete at.
Companies like Huwaei benefit from cheap credit from state sponsored banks, lenient labour laws with low wages with far better access to a growing internal market than western rivals. The red hearing of national security makes a nice headline but the substance of this story is weak and below the normal standard set by el Reg. Exclusive, yes - good reporting, definitely not!
Although it was well written :)