Feeds

Chinese firm hits back at cyberspy claims

Huawei welcomes UK.gov backdoor probe

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

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."

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
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.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.