Feeds

Huawei, ZTE probe showed no evidence of spying

All they did was sell lousy equipment

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

An 18-month investigation by the US House Intelligence Committee into Chinese networking vendors Huawei and ZTE revealed no evidence that either company has been involved in espionage, sources claim.

As reported by Reuters on Wednesday, two sources familiar with the probe said that "certain parts of government really wanted" to uncover evidence of spying, adding, "We would have found it if it were there."

That lack of evidence didn't stop lawmakers from issuing a stern warning to US companies, however, arguing that doing business with either Chinese vendor could pose a security threat.

Earlier this month, Intelligence Committee chair Mike Rogers said, "China is known to be the major perpetrator of cyber espionage, and Huawei and ZTE failed to alleviate serious concerns throughout this important investigation. American businesses should use other vendors."

But according to Reuters' anonymous sources, those "serious concerns" weren't much more than hunches. Not only did the Congressional probe fail to link Huawei and ZTE to current spying activities, but it found no evidence that either company had engaged in espionage in the past.

Rather, the Intelligence Committee made its recommendation based on "a general sense of foreboding" about what might happen if the Chinese government asked network equipment vendors to help gather intelligence from US customers, according to former CIA analyst Chris Johnson.

That foreboding may have been seeded, at least in part, by the Chinese vendors' US-based competition. Last week, The Washington Post claimed to have uncovered a Cisco marketing document that painted Huawei as a security risk, using language very similar to that found in the Intelligence Committee's report.

When asked directly during whether ZTE took orders from the Chinese government, however, Zhu Jinyun, the company's senior VP for North America and Europe, was insistent.

"The committee's central question has been: would ZTE grant China's government access to ZTE telecom infrastructure equipment for a cyber attack?" Zhu told the Intelligence Committee. "Let me answer emphatically: no! China's government has never made such a request. We expect the Chinese government never to make such a request of ZTE. If such a request were made, ZTE would be bound by US law."

Huawei also denied that it took its orders from the Chinese government, but as with ZTE, its protests seemed to fall on deaf ears. Shortly after Rogers issued his advisory to US companies, Huawei issued a statement accusing the Committee of being "committed to a predetermined outcome."

Bugs, just not the spying kind

But although the Congressional investigation did not turn up any evidence that Huawei and ZTE were engaged in spying, it did reveal other reasons why customers might choose to avoid equipment made by Chinese vendors, sources say.

The Intelligence Committee's investigation into the security of Huawei's router software reportedly found it "riddled with holes," many of which could potentially be exploited by hackers. One expert told Reuters that it was "five times easier" to find a security vulnerability in a Huawei router than a Cisco one.

Those defects didn't seem to have been put there intentionally or maliciously. Rather, they seemed to be the result of ordinary sloppy coding. So it seems Huawei and ZTE customers do run a greater risk being targeted by hackers, after all; just not necessarily by Chinese spies. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Super Cali signs a kill-switch, campaigners say it's atrocious
Remote-death button bad news for crooks, protesters – and great news for hackers?
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
prev story

Whitepapers

A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?
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.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.