Spy back doors? That would be suicide, says Huawei

'Impeccable track record' clearly means we're not a spy conduit, says mouthpiece


Chinese hardware manufacturer Huawei says allegations it provides backdoors for espionage in its kit remain unproven and would be “commercial suicide”.

“The hypothetical - that our equipment could be used for espionage by the Chinese government - has never been proven,” spokesman Scott Sykes told press at the company’s annual global analyst event in Shenzen this week.

“If it were ever proven, we would lose 65 per cent of our business overnight. That would be corporate suicide.”

As the world’s second largest networking equipment supplier, Huawei has raised concerns amongst Anglophone spooks. It was banned from bidding for contracts for the Australian national data backbone.

However, documents disclosed by Edward Snowden this year suggest Huawei may be more sinned against than sinner. The US National Security Agency’s ‘Tailored Access Operations’ unit broke into Huawei’s corporate servers, and by 2010 was reading corporate email and examining the source code used in Huawei’s products.

“We currently have good access and so much data that we don’t know what to do with it,” boasted one NSA briefing. The slides also disclose the NSA intended to plant its own backdoors in Huawei firmware.

A report by the UK’s Intelligent and Security Committee in 2013 was critical of BT, which uses Huawei for its C21 network, for not informing ministers of its decision to use the supplier for what it regards as critical national infrastructure. However, like the US Senate’s report the previous year, the committee offered no evidence of existing back doors.

“The Security Service had already told us in early 2008 that, theoretically, the Chinese State may be able to exploit any vulnerabilities in Huawei’s equipment in order to gain some access to the BT network, which would provide them with an attractive espionage opportunity”, the UK committee reported (pdf).

Huawei now works with second and third tier telcos in the US. It abandoned an attempt to purchase 3Com and says it doesn’t plan on making any acquisitions in the next ten years.

“Broadly, we have an impeccable track record with 500 telcos in 150 countries. There's never been a security issue of any kind,” Sykes told journalists. “We wouldn't be a $40bn company today if were not good at building secure networks. It simply would not be possible. Sixty-five per cent of our business is outside China.” ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading
  • American diplomats' iPhones reportedly compromised by NSO Group intrusion software

    Reuters claims nine State Department employees outside the US had their devices hacked

    The Apple iPhones of at least nine US State Department officials were compromised by an unidentified entity using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

    NSO Group in an email to The Register said it has blocked an unnamed customers' access to its system upon receiving an inquiry about the incident but has yet to confirm whether its software was involved.

    "Once the inquiry was received, and before any investigation under our compliance policy, we have decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations," an NSO spokesperson told The Register in an email. "To this point, we haven’t received any information nor the phone numbers, nor any indication that NSO’s tools were used in this case."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021