Liang Hua, the chairman of Huawei, has claimed that his company is “willing to sign non-spy agreements with governments” to allay concerns that the company’s telecommunications infrastructure could be used by the Chinese government to spy on citizens of other countries.
“We are willing to sign no-spy agreements with governments, including the UK government, to commit ourselves to making our equipment meet the no-spy, no-backdoors standard,” he said at a business conference in London.
Huawei will spend £1.5 billion to strengthen equipment security
Hua’s statement comes not long after the company pledged to spend at least £1.5 billion over the next five years to address the UK’s concerns around the deployment of its equipment for the UK’s upcoming 5G networks.
It also agreed to make changes to its engineering processes to meet the NCSC’s criteria and to ensure that the government’s cyber security experts will be able to accurately assess the cyber resilience of Huawei’s equipment that will be deployed in the UK.
“Earlier this year the oversight board report of the HCSEC identified some areas for improvement in our engineering processes. We are grateful for this feedback and committed to addressing these issues. Cyber security remains Huawei’s top priority, and we will continue to actively improve our engineering processes and risk management systems,” said a company spokesperson.
While Theresa May’s government has not clarified officially if it will allow Huawei to participate in the deployment of 5G equipment, a report from Reuters last month claimed that the UK “will block China’s Huawei Technologies from all core parts of the 5G network and access to non-core parts of it will be restricted“, indicating that Britain will not, unlike the United States, Australia, Japan and New Zealand, outrightly ban Huawei from participating in the development of 5G networks.
NCSC termed Huawei’s engineering as “very, very shoddy”
Even though Britain’s decision to allow the Chinese firm to participate in the development of “non-core” components of the country’s future 5G networks is yet to be confirmed by government officials or ministers, if true, the decision will be consistent with BT’s decision not to allow Huawei to supply core components for its 5G infrastructure.
According to Dr Ian Levy, technical director of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), Huawei has so far done very little to reassure the government that its promised transformation programme will bear fruit in the coming years.
“The security in Huawei is like nothing else – it’s engineering like it’s back in the year 2000 – it’s very, very shoddy. We’ve seen nothing to give us any confidence that the transformation programme is going to do what they say it’s going to do,” he told BBC Panorama.
He added that if Huawei fails to deliver the best-in-class security in its products, then ministers could consider banning the use of its communications equipment in government offices such as Westminster.