Huawei risk can be managed, say UK cyber-security chiefs


The Huawei logo outside their research facility in Ottawa, Ontario, CanadaImage copyright
Reuters

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Huawei has said it is independent and gives nothing to Beijing, aside from taxes

Any possible security risk posed to the UK by Chinese telecoms giant Huawei can be managed, cyber-security chiefs have said.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre’s decision undermines US efforts to persuade its allies to ban the firm from 5G communications networks.

The Chinese government is accused of using Huawei as a proxy so it can spy on rival nations.

But Huawei has said it gives nothing to Beijing, aside from taxes.

Australia, New Zealand, and the US have already banned Huawei from supplying equipment for their future fifth generation mobile broadband networks, while Canada is reviewing whether the company’s products present a serious security threat.

Most of the UK’s mobile companies – Vodafone, EE and Three – have been working with Huawei on developing their 5G networks.

They are awaiting on a government review, due in March or April, that will decide whether they can use Huawei technology.

The conclusion by the National Cyber Security Centre, which is part of the intelligence agency GCHQ, will feed into the review.

The decision has not yet been made public, but the security agency said in a statement it had “a unique oversight and understanding of Huawei engineering and cyber security”.

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Getty Images

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Huawei has denied that it poses any risk to the UK or any other country

BBC business correspondent Rob Young said the National Cyber Security Centre’s conclusion “will carry weight”, but said the review could still rule against Huawei.

A spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which is leading the review into the future of the telecoms industry, said its analysis was “ongoing”.

“No decisions have been taken and any suggestion to the contrary is inaccurate,” they said in a statement.

UK service provider BT has already said it is in the process of removing Huawei’s equipment from central parts of its existing 3G and 4G mobile operations and it will not use the company’s components in the core of its next 5G network.

Fifth-generation mobile broadband is coming to the UK over the next year or so, promising download and browsing speeds 10 to 20 times faster than those 4G networks can offer.

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Media captionWill superfast 5G mobile be worth the money?

The US argues Huawei could use malign software updates to spy on those using 5G.

It points to China’s National Intelligence Law passed in 2017 that says organisations must “support, co-operate with and collaborate in national intelligence work”.

Critics of Huawei also highlight that its founder Ren Zhengfei was a former engineer in the country’s army and joined the Communist Party in 1978.

Huawei recently attracted attention when its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested and accused of breaking American sanctions on Iran.



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