Huawei Network Security Becomes Issue in Sprint Softbank Merger

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2013-03-31 Print this article Print

Then they tried to insert cyber-warfare malware into computers at the State Department. Apparently the Chinese picked Stokes as a reporter whose email was likely to be opened by State Department officials.

In an environment like this, the level of suspicion by counter-intelligence officials in Washington is no surprise. Couple that with a number of incidents in which Hauwei telecom equipment has been shown to be sending information to servers in China along with the continuing concern in Congress, and you can understand why it looks like Huawei and fellow Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturer ZTE are lucky to be doing business in the U.S. at all. This concern isn't limited to the U.S. The U.K. and Australia both restrict the operations of Huawei and ZTE.

Huawei, as you would expect, denies that the company has ever done anything to compromise the security of its customers. Unfortunately, those same customers have developed plenty of evidence to the contrary. The actions of these companies belie their words, and it's clear that both are working as agents for the Chinese intelligence services.

The real question now isn't whether Hauwei and ZTE are risks to national security. The questions is, rather, how great is the risk? How much data has already been stolen? As was the case of the Chinese spy fleeing the country after stealing data from NASA, it's not uncommon for data theft to be happening on a continuing basis for a long time before it's discovered. Some previous data breaches have gone on for years.

This question needs to be aimed at Clearwire, especially. How sure is Clearwire that its Huawei telecom equipment hasn't been quietly siphoning data off to China? How certain is Clearwire that its telecom equipment isn't providing Chinese hackers an easily accessible back door into the U.S. telecom infrastructure? Fortunately, we have Sprint's word that it will replace the Clearwire gear before it completes the Softbank merger.

But there's an obvious question that follows from here. Should Chinese telecom equipment be banned from the U.S. entirely? Or there's the next question, which is whether equipment made in China, from iPhones to televisions, can be certified to be free of Chinese spyware. I don't know the answer to that last one.

Is Apple completely confident that there's not some Chinese spyware code quietly lying in wait inside every iPhone? I hope so, but I don't think I'm paranoid to wonder about it.


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