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Huawei defends its cyber security record after UK rebuke

Image credit: reuters

Huawei’s deputy chairman Guo Ping (pictured) has said that cyber security is a top priority, following a report from the British Government accusing the Chinese tech giant of security failings.

The report from Britain's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) found that Huawei had failed to fix long-standing security flaws in its mobile network equipment while also revealing new “significant technical issues”.

It said the company’s software development had brought “significantly increased risk to UK operators” and that it had made “no material progress” in addressing security flaws, and therefore NCSC didn’t have confidence in Huawei’s capacity to deliver on proposed measures to address “underlying defects.”

But while “poor software engineering” had led to these issues, the NCSC said it had seen no sign that these issues were due to Chinese government interference.

Guo did not respond directly to the British report’s criticisms but said Huawei will work with regulators to improve security.

He noted the company has promised to invest $2bn (£1.53bn) over five years to improve its software engineering and believed that British regulators will “increase their confidence” in Huawei over time.

“We prioritise cyber security and privacy protection even above our commercial targets,” he said at a news conference. He also reiterated that the British report showed Huawei products had no ‘backdoors’ to permit eavesdropping.

The company has come under increased scrutiny from western governments in recent months as they consider which manufacturers should be chosen to build the next-generation 5G mobile networks.

Germany recently said it would not ban Huawei from its networks but would be tightening the security criteria for all operators who wish to bid on contracts.

The company announced it was suing the US Government earlier this month over its decision to ban Huawei products.

The company’s chief financial officer was arrested in December in Canada on US charges of lying to banks about dealings with Iran. Beijing has detained two Canadians and blocked imports of canola from Canada in what is widely seen as an attempt to compel her release.

Huawei’s US market evaporated after a 2012 congressional report labelled the company a security threat, but sales elsewhere grew rapidly.

Huawei overtook Apple last year as the number two global smartphone brand behind Samsung and earlier passed Ericsson as the number one network gear seller.

Huawei has also opened testing centres in Britain, Germany and Belgium for regulators to examine its products.

“We welcome the European Union’s attitude,” said Guo. “They do not discriminate against vendors from any country.”

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