Maria Montero

Without evidence, is Huawei really a threat to national security?

This is Huawei versus the US, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and most of Europe and Japan.

It’s almost as if the world’s largest surveillance superpowers don’t want Huawei’s cell tower and network router to be inside critical networks in their countries, amid concerns about the company’s ties to the Chinese military.

Huawei, they say, could be spying on the Chinese, and that poses a national security risk.

But there’s a problem. Years of congressional hearings and “inconclusive” hardware inspections have presented a mixed picture of the threat that Huawei may, or may not, pose. Despite the fact that the founder and president of the company is a former officer of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and that the company continues to be funded by the Chinese government, there is also no direct public evidence that Huawei is using its equipment to spy on network traffic within the United States. or any other country. In any case, Huawei cannot be negative, so all it can do is allow governments to evaluate its devices, which have so far found some problems, but nothing conclusive to link them to Chinese spy actors.

That’s the crux of the argument: no one thinks Huawei is spying now. Getting caught would be too dangerous. But no one knows that he will not spy in the future.

The worst nightmare scenario is that telcos will take advantage of Huawei’s technology and install their equipment in every nook, cranny and corner of their networks. Why wouldn’t they? The technology is cheap, said to be reliable, and necessary for the imminent expansion of 5G. Then, years later, China exploits a hidden vulnerability that allows hackers to steal business secrets.

At that point, it would be too late. Network operators cannot just boot their routers and switches. The damage is done.

Telecommunications companies need Huawei as much as Huawei. But telecommunications companies in North America and Europe are finding it increasingly difficult to navigate under pressure from their governments, which see them as a critical national infrastructure and an ongoing national security concern.

The reality is that China is no more a threat to national security than the US is to China, which has its own growing network equipment business. Both the US and Canada may not want to use Huawei or ZTE computers on their networks for fear of a surprise cyberattack ten years later, why should China, Russia or any other “frenemy” state choose HPE or Cisco? technologies?

Companies have a choice: is the enemy you know better than the one you don’t know?

Ren Zhengfei, founder and CEO of Huawei Technologies Co., attends an interview at the company’s headquarters in Shenzhen, China on Tuesday, January 15, 2019. Ren, the billionaire telecom mogul, broke years of public silence to dismiss the US allegations that the telecom giant helps Beijing spy on Western governments and praise Donald Trump for his tax cuts Photographer: Qilai Shen / Bloomberg via Getty Images

The United States government has persisted across administrations with its fierce rhetoric about Huawei’s ties to the Chinese government, as a report by the House Intelligence Committee in 2012 promoted a national ban on equipment manufactured by Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese electronics maker, even warned against using their consumer phones. A notable absence from the House report was specific evidence of Chinese espionage.

In keeping with the panel’s assertion that “a router that turns on in the middle of the night, starts sending large data packets and is sent to China,” said former Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI). Huawei, which has always denied claims, has long requested evidence. This week alone, the US said it doesn’t need to show proof, citing the company’s ability to be “leveraged by the Chinese government.”

The report contained claims of bribery and corruption, copyright infringement and more, but there was no smoking gun to prove that the company was spying, only that it could at the request of Beijing.

Despite China’s authoritarian rule, the country says it doesn’t have a single law that can force a company to spy on its behalf or put back doors on its products. Westerners are legitimately skeptical: In China, the government does not need a law to say that it can or cannot do something.