Huawei gear al­lows se­cret ac­cess, U.S. of­fi­cial al­leges

Na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vi­sor says firm “can ac­cess sen­si­tive and per­sonal in­for­ma­tion” in the sys­tems it sells.

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS BEAT - As­so­ci­ated press

com­pany Huawei can se­cretly tap into com­mu­ni­ca­tions through the net­work­ing equip­ment it sells glob­ally, a U.S. of­fi­cial al­leged as the White House stepped up ef­forts to per­suade al­lies to ban the gear from next-gen­er­a­tion cel­lu­lar net­works.

The U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vi­sor, Robert O’Brien, made the state­ment at an At­lantic Coun­cil fo­rum Tues­day evening af­ter the Wall Street Jour­nal quoted him as say­ing Huawei can “ac­cess sen­si­tive and per­sonal in­for­ma­tion” in sys­tems it sells and main­tains glob­ally. O’Brien did not pro­vide any ev­i­dence to suprity port the claim.

U.S. of­fi­cials have long ar­gued that Huawei is bound by Chi­nese law to spy on be­half of the coun­try’s rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party. Huawei de­nies that claim and is­sued a state­ment Wed­nes­day say­ing the com­pany “has never and will never covertly ac­cess tele­com net­works, nor do we have the ca­pa­bil­ity to do so.”

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has been lob­by­ing for more than a year to per­suade al­lies to ex­clude Huawei equip­ment from their next-gen­er­a­tion cel­lu­lar net­works, known as 5G.

Bri­tain and the Euro­pean Union have de­clined to im­pose an out­right ban, how­ever. Lon­don has pro­hib­ited Huawei from sup­ply­ing equip­ment used in the core of its 5G net­work but not the pe­riph­ery. The EU last month un­veiled se­cu­rity guide­lines that, sim­i­lar to mea­sures al­ready in place in Bri­tain, are aimed at re­duc­ing cy­ber­se­cu­rity risks.

In­de­pen­dent cy­ber­se­cuChi­nese ex­perts say the in­tel­li­gence ser­vices of global pow­ers in­clud­ing the United States rou­tinely ex­ploit vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in net­work­ing equip­ment — re­gard­less of the man­u­fac­turer — for es­pi­onage pur­poses.

The United States and other coun­tries re­quire that so-called “law­ful in­ter­cept” ca­pa­bil­i­ties be built into net­works, though the equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers are not sup­posed to have se­cret ac­cess to them.

Many an­a­lysts be­lieve Washington’s in­tense an­tiHuawei lob­by­ing ef­forts are as much about seek­ing global tech­no­log­i­cal dom­i­nance as de­ter­ring Chi­nese cy­beres­pi­onage, which is al­ready ram­pant and equip­ment ag­nos­tic.

They also note that the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency has pre­vi­ously in­fil­trated Huawei equip­ment — as well as de­vices of other man­u­fac­tur­ers — as de­tailed in doc­u­ments dis­closed in 2013 by former NSA con­trac­tor Ed­ward Snow­den.

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