Huawei will change its practices to appease UK security officials

A meeting between Huawei executives and UK security officials has led to an agreement the Chinese vendor will change its practices.

Huawei will pen a formal letter to the National Cyber Security Centre which covers the agreement in detail. The letter will include what measures will be taken in order to alleviate concerns.

The meeting was set up to avoid a ban of the vendor’s telecoms equipment in the UK similar to the US and Australia. Countries including New Zealand, Japan, India, South Korea, and several European countries are considering their own bans.

Back in 2010, the UK set up the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) where UK intelligence experts from the GCHQ spy agency examine the company’s equipment for potential security threats.

Earlier this year, HCSEC identified new risks and could no longer fully ensure all risks to the UK’s infrastructure had been mitigated.

Huawei welcomed the report, saying it showed the centre is working:

"The report concludes that HCSEC's operational independence is both robust and effective. The Oversight Board has identified some areas for improvement in our engineering processes.

We are grateful for this feedback and are committed to addressing these issues.

Cybersecurity remains Huawei's top priority, and we will continue to actively improve our engineering processes and risk management systems."

The company is said to have been slow in addressing the concerns raised in the report. In the agreement reached during the meeting, it’s likely assurances have been provided to appease UK security officials.

However, EU Tech Commissioner Andrud Ansip warned this week the bloc should be concerned about the company.

Responding to Ansip’s comments, a Huawei spokesperson said:

“We categorically reject any allegation that we might pose a security threat.

Huawei has never been asked by any government to build any backdoors or interrupt any networks, and we would never tolerate such behaviour by any of our staff.”

Recent weeks have seen an uptick in debates from Western governments over whether Huawei should be involved with national 5G networks.

The anti-Huawei sentiment is expected to have been driven by the US, who have reportedly been petitioning its allies not to use Chinese 5G gear and possibly even incentivising them with aid if they use US vendors.

Huawei says it is “shocked by the behaviours of the US government detailed in the article. If a government’s behaviour extends beyond its jurisdiction, such activity should not be encouraged.”

Earlier this week, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada on the behalf of the US for allegedly violating US sanctions against Iran.

Wanzhou is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, making the arrest particularly notable. Huawei has often come under scrutiny for Zhengfei’s past links to the People’s Liberation Army where he served in a rank equivalent to a major.

Set to a backdrop of wider trade war fears, high-profile American tech executives are being warned against travelling to China in case of retaliation.

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London, and Amsterdam to learn more.

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