Feeds

Chinese firm hits back at cyberspy claims

Huawei welcomes UK.gov backdoor probe

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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."

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA
Mr Burns vs. The Chocolate Factory, round three!
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
Know what Ferguson city needs right now? It's not Anonymous doxing random people
U-turn on vow to identify killer cop after fingering wrong bloke
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.