Huawei factory

UK Government Security Adviser To Review Huawei Cell

Cabinet Office says it can’t be complacent over concerns surrounding Huawei centre designed to check for security flaws

On by Thomas Brewster 0

The Prime Minister’s National Security Adviser is to carry out a review of a Huawei operated centre designed to assuage concerns the firm’s networking products contain Chinese government backdoors.

The so-called Cell, otherwise known as the Cyber Security Evaluation Centre, was criticised by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) in June as it is self-policed by Huawei employees and has only just reached “full functionality”. Only GCHQ employees should be testing equipment at the centre, the ISC said.

Mr. Ren Huawei in New Zealand-The committee was also critical of the government for not setting up such a centre sooner, as a major Huawei deal to provide networking kit for national BT infrastructure was signed back in 2005.

Huawei Cell concern

But the government does not want to damage ties with Chinese businesses. “We are working hard to develop our economic relationships with key trading partners, including China,” the government’s official response to the ISC report read.

“Our work with Huawei and their UK customers gives us confidence that the networks in the UK that use Huawei equipment are operated to a high standard of security and integrity.”

The Cabinet Office, which defines the government’s cyber security strategy, said it had to be cautious, however, and so was carrying out an assessment of the centre’s work.

“We are not complacent and as such we have agreed to the main recommendation of the report to conduct a review of Huawei’s Cyber Security Evaluation Centre to give assurance that we have the right measures and processes in place to protect UK telecommunications,” a spokesperson said, in an emailed statement sent to TechWeekEurope.

Huawei said it welcomed the report, noting it would assist in the review of the centre. “Huawei shares the same goal as the UK government and the ISC in raising the standards of cyber security in the UK and ensuring that network technology benefits UK consumers. Huawei is open to new ideas and ways of working to improve cyber security,” a spokesperson said, in an emailed statement sent to TechWeek.

The Chinese company has struggled in both the US and Australia, where officials have warned of Huawei’s alleged ties with the Chinese government. They fear Huawei networking gear contains backdoors that would allow the Chinese to spy on other nations.

Such concerns stem from the fact that the founder of Huawei Ren Zhengfei (pictured) is a former officer of the People’s Liberation Army.

Huawei continues to deny any ties to the PLA or the Chinese government, however, and has had plenty of success in the UK, forging deals with major telecoms players, including EE, O2 and TalkTalk.

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Thomas Brewster

Author: Thomas Brewster

Security Correspondent, TechWeekEurope
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