Britain rebukes Huawei over security failings

March 29, 2019 09:19
Huawei has failed to make sufficient progress in addressing security flaws in relation to its telecom network equipment, UK officials said in a report. Photo: Reuters

Britain chastised China’s Huawei Technologies for failing to fix long-standing security flaws in its mobile network equipment, and also revealed new “significant technical issues,” Reuters reports.

In a report published on Thursday, a government-led board that oversees vetting of Huawei gear in Britain said continued problems with the company’s software development had brought “significantly increased risk to UK operators”, the news agency said. 

The board – which includes officials from Britain’s GCHQ communications intelligence agency – said in the report that Huawei had made “no material progress” addressing security flaws.

It also said that it didn’t have confidence in the Chinese firm's capacity to deliver on proposed measures to address “underlying defects.”

The unusually direct criticism is a fresh blow to the world’s largest maker of mobile network equipment, which has been under intense scrutiny in recent months, Reuters noted.

Officials in the United States and elsewhere have been increasingly public in voicing concerns that Huawei’s equipment could be used by Beijing for spying or sabotage, particularly as operators move to next generation 5G mobile networks.

Huawei, meanwhile, said in a statement it takes the UK oversight board’s concerns “very seriously” and that the issues identified in the report “provide vital input for the ongoing transformation of our software engineering capabilities”.

David Wang, Huawei executive director for research and development spending, said the hardware and software were “very complicated systems” and were subject to human error.

Huawei is committed to improving its software engineering but changing processes, culture and staffing would be “a very difficult and painful process” that would take time, he said.

Huawei pledged last year to spend more than US$2 billion as part of efforts to address problems previously identified by Britain, but has also warned it could take up to five years to see results.

British security officials previously said they believed any risks posed by Huawei could be managed.

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