Report: NSA Has Been Spying on Huawei Networking Equipment, Execs Since 2007
March 23, 2014 1:23 PM
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“The irony is that exactly what they are doing to us is what they have always charged that the Chinese are doing through us." -- Huawei's William Plummer
Remember all of those accusations leveled against China-based Huawei alleging that the electronics powerhouse was using its networking equipment to spy on American interests? Well it appears that the pot has been calling the kettle black.
I. Huawei Finds Itself Under the Microscope of the U.S. Government
Over the years, Huawei has been accused of
illegally smuggling telecommunications equipment into Iran
. The U.S. House Intelligence Committee even went so far as to
call for a ban on Huawei routers and smartphone sales in the U.S.
over concerns that the devices were being used for spying on behalf of the Chinese government.
Huawei has been a continued target of the U.S. government. [Image Source: AFP]
Huawei officials have vehemently denied spying accusations leveled against it, with a
spokesman reiterating in May 2013
Huawei has no connection to the cyber-security issues the U.S. has encountered in the past, current and future. Huawei equipment is almost non-existent in networks currently running in the U.S. We have never sold any key equipment to major U.S. carriers, nor have we sold any equipment to any U.S. government agency.
However, according to recent documents released by Edward Snowden, it looks as though the U.S. government is the one that should be answering some questions with regards to its own infiltration of Huawei.
II. Additional Snowden Leaks Reveal that NSA was Infiltrating Huawei Servers
In documents revealed to the
New York Times
, it’s been shown that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been performing the same spying tactics that it has accused [
but not proven
] Huawei of performing.
The NSA was able to create “back doors” into Huawei’s China-based headquarters in order to ascertain the inner workings of the company’s routers and digital switches. According to the leaked documents, the NSA even spied on Huawei’s top executives as a part of a wide-reaching program codenamed “Shotgiant” which began in 2007.
The NSA’s motives were made incredibly clear: to keep tabs on the
People’s Liberation Army
and to create exploits that would enable the U.S. to conduct surveillance on foreign nations, or as the NSA puts it, “our targets [that] communicate over Huawei-produced products.”
Edward Snowden strikes again in recently released NSA documents [Image Source: The Guardian]
Interestingly, the revelations that Huawei was under attack by the NSA came as fresh news to William Plummer, a U.S.-based Huawei executive.
“The irony is that exactly what they are doing to us is what they have always charged that the Chinese are doing through us,” chided Plummer. “If such espionage has been truly conducted, then it is known that the company is independent and has no unusual ties to any government, and that knowledge should be relayed publicly to put an end to an era of mis- and disinformation.”
III. U.S. Government Blocks Huawei from Investing in U.S. Companies; U.S. Allies Follow Suit
“We do not give intelligence we collect to U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line. Many countries cannot say the same,” said White House spokeswoman Caitlin M. Hayden in a statement to the
New York Times
That may be the White House’s position, but the U.S. government’s blockade on all things Huawei has definitely given U.S.-based companies -- and companies from strong U.S. allies -- a firmer footing in the networking sector.
Huawei's efforts to grab a foothold in the U.S. market have been thwarted at nearly every turn. [Image Source: Gigaom]
In 2008, the U.S. blocked Huawei from purchasing 3Com out of concerns for national security. Instead, U.S.-based Hewlett-Packard ended up
purchasing 3Com in 2009 for $2.7 billion
. The U.S. government also interfered with Huawei’s intentions of purchasing Sprint Nextel (the U.S. also thwarted Huawei’s home market rival, ZTE, from making a bid). Japan-based Softbank in its place was given the go-ahead to
purchase Sprint Nextel in 2013
And the U.S. government’s interference in Huawei’s business operations isn’t limited to matters here on U.S. soil. The U.S. managed to
persuade Australia to reject Huawei and ZTE networking equipment in 2013
, and more recently
succeeded in convincing South Korea to do the same
It seems as though Edward Snowden isn’t yet finished with dishing out as much dirt as possible on the U.S.’ spying efforts, and this latest revelation is likely to be far from the last.
The New York Times
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RE: Shareholder Lawsuit
3/24/2014 12:02:57 PM
Is this really just a chicken vs egg scenario though?
I mean, if NSA can say with confidence (as it had) that Huawei was involved in these practices with PLA, then its probably the only case of spying thus far where I find it hard to BLAME the NSA.
It's hard to feel bad for Huawei simply because of the NSA's involvement in determining, confirming, and monitoring their ties with the PLA.
I mean, honestly, this is about the only type of thing the NSA SHOULD BE DOING.
There are an abundance of reasons to throw the NSA under the bus, but this one just seems like what we thought they were doing up until the Snowden re-revelations; defending the American public and private sector from terrorist plots / foreign attacks.
Unless I missed something, this article doesn't say the claims against Huawei are false, it just says the NSA has been watching them. Great.
My issue is they should stop watching innocent citizens. Watching Chinese private entities working with their government to undermine American security is, frankly, fine with me.
RE: Shareholder Lawsuit
4/1/2014 5:03:35 PM
Totally agree Nelly.
I think Huawei is playing (and a smart play at that) on the susceptibility of people to being swayed to distrust anyone who has been labelled a hypocrite. Every day you can find an example of the media "discrediting" someone based on their failure to be perfectly consistent in their thoughts and actions.
A recent example is the issue of pharmacy chain stores carrying tobacco products. The states want to appeal to the "anti-hypocrite bias" which exists today to get the public support to convince big stores to stop carrying tobacco products.
It made sense with CVS because they're business is pharmacy. Sure they sell lots of other products but their primary business is in healthcare so its a sensible action. Not to mention this probably appeases certain interests that may have been putting pressure on them.
Now a group of attorneys general are asking the megastores (your walmart, kmart, target etc) to stop carrying tobacco products based on the same reasoning. Its silly. The purpose of these stores is to literally try to sell everything. So to pick up on one type of thing they sell (pharmacy) and claim that not selling another type of product (tobacco) makes the company some big hypocrite, is just absurd. Even if one agrees they are being contradictory, that doesn't provide rationale to stop selling certain products.
In their words: "There is a contradiction in having these dangerous and devastating tobacco products on the shelves of a retail chain that services health care needs,".
I think the fundamental misunderstanding is the notion that contradiction/hypocrisy has anything to say about right and wrong. Just because some entity has said or done things that contradict other things does not automatically make them "wrong".
Like you said, NSA has done plenty of bad things, but this is an example of them doing exactly what they should be.
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