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BT Unconcerned by UK Governments Security Investigation of Huawei

Friday, Oct 12th, 2012 (9:00 am) - Score 720

The UK government’s Intelligence Committee confirmed this week that it has been investigating security concerns related to Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications firm, and its involvement in the country’s national broadband and phone market. But one of the firm’s biggest customers, BT, remains unconcerned.

The international security concerns surrounding Huawei, which once again permeated the news this week after the US House of Representatives ruled that both they and Chinese rival ZTEcannot be trusted to be free from foreign state influence“, are nothing new and have been running the gauntlet for several years. Canada and Australia have also echoed similar concerns and even imposed some restrictions.

China is still viewed with a great deal of suspicion in many western countries, which are mindful of its suspected involvement in cyber-attacks on foreign governments and businesses, their growing military and economic influences and the strong bond between Chinese firms and the states ruling communist party. Needless to say that some countries don’t like the idea of affordable Chinese-made kit becoming the backbone of their national telecoms infrastructure and see it as a security risk, not to mention a commercial threat.

But unlike those markets the UK has embraced Huawei and the firm will soon have around 1,000 employees here (currently 650+). On top of that Huawei, which has already invested over £150m into the country, have built significant business deals with BT, EE (Orange UK, T-Mobile), O2, Three UK, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Sky Broadband among others.

A BT Spokesperson said (PC Pro):

We clearly recognise that increased globalisation of the telecoms industry means there is a diverse range of cyber threats to consider when building and securing networks.

BT takes a risk-management approach on the use of components from Huawei and, like the UK Government, we see no need to change our position following the US Report. We work closely with Huawei on commercial security best practice and our relationship with Huawei is managed strictly in accordance with UK laws.

BT’s network is underpinned by robust security controls and built-in resilience. We always work closely with each of our suppliers – and government where appropriate – to gain assurance through rigorous review that the security of the network is not compromised.”

In reality it would be impossible for every single piece of Huawei’s kit to be picked apart and forensically examined, prior to installation, in order to unequivocally prove that they weren’t a threat. At the same time there’s still a big question mark over the evidence for such fears, which has yet to be clarified.

It should be said that Huawei denies all of the allegations, albeit admitting to some state influence, and would perhaps be shooting itself in the foot by building backdoors or other nasty things into its kit.

On the other hand not all of TalkTalk’s customers were too pleased when they first learnt that part of the ISPs HomeSafe service required all of their web page visits to be held remotely in a device managed solely by Huawei (here), which could conceivably reveal a lot more information than some might fully comprehend. But that’s a separate issue, maybe.

The UK Intelligence Committee is due to report back at the end of this year, although few expect any significant findings and in any case it’s perhaps a little late to turn the clock back now.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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