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US nuke lab drops Chinese networking kit

Report says Los Alamos ditched H3C kit over security concerns

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The Los Alamos National Laboratory, home of some US research into nuclear weapons, has replaced networking kit from Chinese vendor H3C over security concerns, according to Reuters.

Reuters says it has read internal correspondence suggesting the removal of the H3C devices was undertaken as part of a wider review of risks posed by equipment suppliers, but that no specific threat posed by the devices was identified.

Instead, the kit seems to have been replaced on the basis of suspicion alone.

If that's the case, it signals a new level of paranoia for US government entities about Chinese networking equipment vendors, given that H3C is now in HP's hands.

The company ended up with HP after its genesis as a China-based joint venture between Huawei and 3Com. The former company tried to acquire 3Com in 2008, but was rebuffed by US authorities on security grounds. HP later scooped up 3Com in 2010.

The removal of the kit from Los Alamos shows US authorities are keen on Congress' assessment that Huawei and ZTE should not be allowed to sell their products from sea to shining sea.

Both companies have objected strongly to that assessment, attributing it to protectionism and/or insisting they are in no way puppets of the Chinese regime.

It's also worth pointing out that, to date, no-one has detected – or detected and publicised – either a stream of packets flowing from a Chinese networking device to an unintended destination or a back door Chinese vendors can access without users' knowledge.

The lack of a smoking gun hasn't stopped Australia from barring Huawei from supplying any products for its national broadband network, a decision made not long after a visit by President Obama said at the time to have included very high-level briefings on Chinese networking vendors.

Elsewhere, Huawei has been rather better received, with the company sinking huge sums into a UK R&D centre. ®

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