Huawei exposes new telecom networks risks, UK says

UK is the new telecom market that poses challenges to China-based mobile equipment maker Huawei.
Huawei booth at MWC 2017Huawei, the largest telecom network maker in the world, is already in the watch-list of Australia and US. The perception issue is due to the association of Huawei with China government. Australia and US administration believe that Huawei networks are being used for government spying.

Technical and supply-chain issues with equipment made by Huawei have exposed Britain’s telecom networks to new security risks, a government report said on Thursday, Jack Stubbs of Reuters reported.

The assessment, made in a report signed off by Britain’s GCHQ spy agency, will intensify the espionage debate around Huawei Technologies.

Senior British security officials say they can now give only limited assurances that Huawei’s UK operations pose no threat to national security.

Identification of shortcomings in Huawei’s engineering processes exposed new risks in the UK telecommunication networks and long-term challenges in mitigation and management, said the report.

Huawei welcomed the thrust of the report by the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) oversight board, which it said showed supervision by British authorities was working well.

“The Oversight Board has identified some areas for improvement in our engineering processes,” a Huawei spokesman said.

“We are grateful for this feedback and are committed to addressing these issues. Cyber security remains Huawei’s top priority, and we will continue to actively improve our engineering processes and risk management systems.”

Huawei says no inspection has ever found any backdoor vulnerability in its equipment. It says it is a private company not under Chinese government control and not subject to Chinese security laws overseas.

The report also identified concerns about the security of components from outside suppliers which are used in Huawei products.

Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre, part of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), said a program to resolve the code issue was underway and should be completed by mid-2020.

HCSEC is discussing questions about the use of third-party software with Huawei with the aim of finding a strategic fix for the problem.

Huawei supplies broadband equipment to the country’s largest telecoms provider, BT Group, and mobile networks for wireless giant Vodafone Group.

Huawei is also a major supplier to other European telecom carriers including Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica.

Huawei, which employs 1,500 people in Britain, in February pledged to spend $4.01 billion in Britain following a meeting between chairwoman Sun Yafang and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Meanwhile, United States lawmakers have stepped up efforts to bar Huawei equipment from the country’s networks. US retailer Best Buy has stopped stocking Huawei products. AT&T stopped buying Huawei phones in January.

Australia is preparing to ban Huawei from supplying equipment for its 5G network, after its intelligence agencies raised concerns that Beijing could force the company to hand over sensitive data.