huawei 5g security surveillance

Huawei has backdoor to comms networks, says White House

Image credit: reuters

Huawei has backdoor access to information sent through next generation networks that use its equipment, a top White House official has admitted to the New York Times.

The embattled Chinese tech giant has long been under scrutiny about its strong links to the Chinese Communist Party and the possibility that it could use the networking infrastructure it has built in other countries to spy on communications.

While there have been few concrete allegations that espionage is taking place, national security adviser Robert C O’Brien has firmly stated that Huawei could “access sensitive and personal information” in other countries.

“This is alarming because Chinese companies, by law, must comply with directives of the Chinese Communist Party,” he told the New York Times. “Strategically, we see a company that can use its position in the market to advance the aims of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Last year US President Donald Trump said he did not “want to do business with Huawei” and warned that US allies would need to follow suit or they could endanger data sharing agreements between the countries. Boris Johnson recently gave Huawei the green light to build parts of the UK’s 5G infrastructure except for “non-core” parts that could compromise the security of the network. The decision did not play well with Trump who was reportedly “apoplectic” with rage during a heated call with the British Prime Minister.

The US has been reluctant to share technical details about its concerns with allies until recently as it ramps up efforts to dissuade them from using Huawei’s 5G tech which comes at a lower cost than many rival firms.

Yesterday lawmakers from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling conservatives backed a position paper on 5G mobile networks that recommends tougher rules on foreign vendors while stopping short of banning Huawei.

“State actors with sufficient resources can infiltrate the network of any equipment maker,” the paper read. “Even with comprehensive technical checks, security risks cannot be eliminated completely - they can at best be minimised. At the same time, we are not defenceless against attempts to eavesdrop on 5G networks. The use of strong cryptography and end-to-end encryption can secure confidentiality in communication and the exchange of data.”

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles