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Huawei US bags defence biz strategist as new CSO

Donald Purdy takes on tough role

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Huawei has appointed a former strategist for a US defence contractor as its new chief security officer, in what could be seen as an attempt to allay Congress concerns that the firm poses a national security risk.

Donald Purdy, who held the role of chief cyber security strategist at CSC, started his job as the new CSO on Tuesday, according to the Washington Post.

A Huawei spokeswoman would only confirm to The Reg that an appointment had been made but had no further info at the time of writing.

According to his biog, Purdy has a long and distinguished career in the security space and particularly at the heart of government in the US.

He was a member of the White House team which drafted the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace in 2003 and worked at the Department of Homeland Security for over three years, including the last two as head of the US CERT and National Cyber Security Division, both of which he helped set up.

This is not the first time the Chinese telecoms kit maker has sought to gain an advantage by hiring a well-known public sector figure to its cyber security team.

In 2011 it announced former UK government CIO John Suffolk was joining as global head of cyber security after gaining clearance from prime minister David Cameron.

New Huawei USA CSO Purdy will certainly have his work cut out.

The firm’s ties with the Chinese government are currently being investigated by a US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee and it’s unlikely to be granted further access to the lucrative US telecoms infrastructure market until these national security concerns are allayed.

Such concerns, which the firm furiously denies, have already forced it to drop a proposed $2m (£3.1m) acquisition of server firm 3Leaf Systems and managed to scupper a deal for network firm 3Com.

It also doesn’t help matters much when government-backed reports such as the one from contractor Northrop Grumman in March claim that the firm has close collaborative ties with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Huawei has spent many years and PR dollars trying to distance itself from such associations, which stem from the fact that founder Ren Zhengfei used to serve in the PLA before setting up his company. ®

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