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By Kaiserschmarrn
#15005015
The Huawei dilemma

Much of the comment and advice about whether Huawei should be allowed to operate in the US, the UK and other Western countries ignores the fact that the position in the United Kingdom is, unavoidably, more complicated than in other countries.

Huawei has been in the UK since 2005. Its equipment and technology have been used by BT for part of their telecommunication infrastructure. Transmission and access equipment, including routers, were supplied by Huawei and were deployed across the network from January 2007. Telecommunications are, of course, part of our Critical National Infrastructure. When I was Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) we decided, in 2013, to investigate how this partnership had come about and whether the national security implications had been properly considered by the Government of the day. What we discovered was truly alarming. Although BT had informed the Cabinet Office as early as 2003 of Huawei’s interest in becoming involved in UK telecommunications, the Cabinet Office did not refer the issue to ministers or even inform them until 2006 a year after the contract between BT and Huawei had been signed. At first, the ISC was told that Ministers were not consulted because there was no legal basis that would have allowed them to veto Huawei. Officials then admitted that the main reason was that they were concerned that the potential trade and diplomatic consequences of blocking Huawei would be too severe.

When the Government did become aware they insisted on a Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (known as the Cell) being established the cost of which would be born by Huawei. The Cell is staffed by security-cleared UK personnel whose loyalty is to HMG. They have provided constant monitoring to try to ensure that Huawei does not abuse their position. The Cell only became fully operational in 2011. While this management of the risk appears to have been fairly successful and reassuring it is not 100 per cent reliable and concerns have been expressed from time to time.

The current controversy is more serious as Huawei involvement in 5G, if it was abused, would have even more serious implications for our national security than BT’s telecommunications infrastructure would do. I have considerable sympathy for the Prime Minister and her ministerial colleagues in the decision they have to reach. Some of the considerations are political and diplomatic because of the very strong and unambiguous pressure from the United States that Huawei should be excluded from all Western countries. It could have implications for the sharing of intelligence if one of its allies was to permit Huawei into 5G provision. I was present at Lancaster House when US Secretary of State Pompeo made these points in the Centre for Policy Studies Margaret Thatcher Lecture on Wednesday. He even claimed that Mrs Thatcher herself would have agreed with President Trump on the issue if she had still been around. I was tempted to tell Secretary Pompeo that when I had been Minister of State at the Foreign Office in the 1980s Mrs Thatcher had sent me to Washington to tell the US that she could not agree with one of President Reagan’s policies that would harm the UK — and that the US should stop trying to force us to agree with them. On that occasion, the US withdrew their proposal.

But the problems for ministers are not just diplomatic, or because of political pressure from the White House. No one in our intelligence agencies disputes that there could be a risk to our national security if Huawei are allowed to provide equipment for 5G. There are, however, often risks which all Governments have to live with. The real question is whether the risk can be managed as we have sought to do with the Cell monitoring Huawei and BT since 2011. I do not feel able to give the Government an unqualified recommendation as to what they should decide. If I was a Minister on the National Security Council I would look to the heads of our intelligence agencies to advise on two matters. Firstly, if Huawei was pressurised by the Chinese Government to abuse their involvement in 5G how much serious damage could they do to our national security? Secondly, to what extent are there measures available, like the existing Cell, that would enable us to find out if Huawei were misbehaving and stop them doing so.

If our intelligence chiefs gave a thumbs down then the Government should not hesitate to ban Huawei from 5G in the UK. If the intelligence advice was unanimous and reassuring that the risk could be managed there would still be a political judgment that would have to be made: would our wider co-operation with the US on intelligence issues made it sensible to join with them and other friendly countries in enforcing a ban? As we have seen on other issues there are occasions when you cannot simply point to a right decision or a wrong decision. Sometimes all options are disagreeable and you have to choose the least bad available.

The article tries hard to be reasonable and balanced, but I don't really have much sympathy with the government, especially after reading the revelation in the second paragraph. It seems wrong that the US should even have to put diplomatic pressure on the UK, as there shouldn't be much to discuss about Huawei's involvement in 5G. This seems an obvious area where risk aversion should reign supreme rather than trusting that the future risk will be manageable.
By ness31
#15005038
”At first, the ISC was told that Ministers were not consulted because there was no legal basis that would have allowed them to veto Huawei.”

Preposterous , no?

”Officials then admitted that the main reason was that they were concerned that the potential trade and diplomatic consequences of blocking Huawei would be too severe.”


That’s quite unbelievable. Would it be over the top to describe that major omission to the appropriate ministers as a scandal? Treasonous even?

Edit: I find it hard to believe the relevant ministers didn’t know what was happening. :hmm:
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By AFAIK
#15005045
So who can we trust to operate 5G? We can't use American companies because their gov't orders them to hack their security and install back doors. IS there anyone who can meet our security standards?
By B0ycey
#15005047
What @AFAIK said. We know US government has asked Apple to put backdoors in their software so who ever you give such a contract to is a risk if it is an outside source. Although being Huawei is state run should have been a red flag. :lol:

Whilst you have Tories in power you have Tory decisions. Pennies before security and national interests.
By Rugoz
#15005089
AFAIK wrote:So who can we trust to operate 5G? We can't use American companies because their gov't orders them to hack their security and install back doors. IS there anyone who can meet our security standards?


On the infrastructure side? Nokia, Ericsson, they only abandoned consumer electronics.
#15005385
AFAIK wrote:So who can we trust to operate 5G? We can't use American companies because their gov't orders them to hack their security and install back doors. IS there anyone who can meet our security standards?

The UK already has many long-standing relationships with other countries that require a great deal of trust. Another question is which countries are least likely to be in conflict with yours in the future. The US ranks high in both respects, so American equipment would certainly be an acceptable option, but as Rugoz says above Ericson or Nokia would be fine too.
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By ThirdTerm
#15005397
Probably the Trump administration should look into Samsung products, too. Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy devices have been approved by the U.S. National Security Agency. The U.S. Department of Defence allowed Samsung's Knox-enabled devices to become the first consumer mobile devices validated to all levels of classified material. However, Samsung is currently accused of spying on and stealing a software from the Dutch company ASML in 2015. You cannot assume that the Chinese are bad communists who cannot be trusted and South Koreans are good guys who can be trusted with all levels of classified material in the U.S. government.

Originally, the Dutch press believed that it was the Chinese Government that was spying on ASML, which wouldn't be a too outlandish idea given China's recent actions. But, ASML's CEO, Peter Wennink denied that it was China, and instead said it was "our biggest [South] Korean customer". Wennink refused to say that it was Samsung by name, and instead said that it was their biggest Korean customer a second time. Which basically points to Samsung, seeing as that is the only chip maker (that's big enough) in South Korea that ASML works with.

According to Wennink, this conclusion came from the company hiring an external company, to find out who was behind the espionage and theft of its software. The external company was able to conclude that it was not state espionage, but rather "ordinary" business espionage.

Apparently, the spies are all Chinese former employees who stole the software and created their own company to compete with ASML, Xtal. It is in China and the US.

The spying took place in 2015, and the new company, Xtal was created in 2016. that year, Samsung became a 30-percent shareholder of Xtal, then ASML lost Samsung as a customer for this particular software. The software in question is used to set up chip machines for optimum production of electronic chips. But interestingly enough, Samsung is already a customer of ASML, once again.

https://www.androidheadlines.com/2019/0 ... psets.html
Last edited by ThirdTerm on 18 May 2019 01:41, edited 3 times in total.
#15005398
This goes beyond corporate and foreign governments' spying. It's about the protection of telecommunications infrastructure from interference by other countries including worst case scenarios like shutting down parts or the whole network.
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By Rancid
#15005403
The only options in infrastructure are Huawei, Nokia, and Ericson.

It's really only those 3 options for an industry and infrastructure that is so important to the entire globe. This is unsettling to me.
#15005411
There's also ZTE and Samsung, no?

Aren't there US manufacturers too? I can't remember the names now but I seem to remember reading about one or two.
By ness31
#15005510
Rancid wrote:The only options in infrastructure are Huawei, Nokia, and Ericson.

It's really only those 3 options for an industry and infrastructure that is so important to the entire globe. This is unsettling to me.


Why are you unsettled Rancid? I don’t like it when you are unsettled by this kind of stuff :hmm:
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By JohnRawls
#15005514
Kaiserschmarrn wrote:There's also ZTE and Samsung, no?

Aren't there US manufacturers too? I can't remember the names now but I seem to remember reading about one or two.

Not really. Erikson, Nokia and Huawei are miles ahead of anybody else. Erikson has been testing 5g for 5 years now for example. Samsung and Zte can provide some basics but that's not enough.
#15005516
^ I see.

I think I've read that a provider in the US has contracted Samsung together with 2 others for its 5G network, but it may well be that Samsung's role is quite limited.
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By Rancid
#15005552
ness31 wrote:
Why are you unsettled Rancid? I don’t like it when you are unsettled by this kind of stuff :hmm:


It's unsettling from a few different perspectives for me:

As a consumer:
It basically means there's little competition, which means there's little or slow innovation, which means prices will not go down on things like data. It's far easier for these companies to even collude with each other to squeeze what they can from the consumer market.

As a citizen of a western nation:
Although there is no evidence to suggest Huawei is actually putting in back doors and whatever else for spying and sabotage. It is TOTALLY within the realm of possibility that they could do something like that (All servers have what's called a BMC chip which is used to access the server even if the main CPUs are turned off. This could easily be turned into a back door.). Given how hostile China is towards anyone that is not China. It really isn't an overblown concern with respect to China pushing Huawei to do its bidding.

Yes, there's no evidence at this time, but again, it's still a legitimate concern. If you entrench your architecture/ecosystem with Huawei, later on down the line, they can certainly introduce back doors and what not without you knowing. Now, to be fair to Huawei, this can be done by any of the infrastructure providers, but it's a little more unsettling when the company is backed by a country that is openly hostile towards everyone else.

As someone that has worked in the mobile industry, and currently is involved in it again from an IP perspective:
It makes it harder to sell your IP into the mobile industry. Makes my job harder. Fewer players to leverage against each other.

If there were more options than Huawei, Nokia, & Erickson. My concerns above would be mitigated as there would be a lot of freedom to choose alternative infrastructure providers. There would be more innovation as well.

Hopefully Nokia & Erickson don't get put out of business. Huawei has the benefit of being able to undercut everyone and take losses to kill off the competition.
By ness31
#15005557
No competition, and having a piece of ones critical national infrastructure accessible to a foreign hostile power.
I was sort of hoping you would tell everyone their concerns were unwarranted and then proceed to list a heap of reasons why :hmm:
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By Rancid
#15005560
ness31 wrote:No competition, and having a piece of ones critical national infrastructure accessible to a foreign hostile power.
I was sort of hoping you would tell everyone their concerns were unwarranted and then proceed to list a heap of reasons why :hmm:


:lol: Sorry to disappoint.
By ness31
#15005562
That’s ok. We’ll all go back to being depressed and made to feel insane by our respective governments that tell us there is no conflict of interest :|
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By Hong Wu
#15005563
I have a Huawei, I figure I just exchanged Obama reading my shitposts for Xi Jinping reading my shitposts.
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By Rancid
#15005567
Hong Wu wrote:I have a Huawei, I figure I just exchanged Obama reading my shitposts for Xi Jinping reading my shitposts.


We're not talking about the phones, we're talking about the infrastructure though. If there's Huawei infrastructure, it doesn't matter what phone you have, Xi Jingping could potentially keep tabs on you.

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