Germany raises Huawei’s hopes in Europe saying no evidence it spies

Huawei’s fortunes in Europe have improved after Germany’s cyber watchdog says there’s no evidence the company spies on customers.

“For such serious decisions like a ban, you need proof,” head of Germany's Federal Office for Information Security Arne Schoenbohm told Spiegel.

Security concerns surrounding Huawei have been renewed ahead of 5G network rollouts. The US, in particular, has been lobbying its allies to ban 5G equipment from the vendor.

Bans have been established in the US and Australia, while countries including New Zealand, Japan, India, South Korea, and several European countries are considering their own.

There are concerns about Chinese vendors in general with fears over state control and the existence of a law requiring firms to aid with surveillance upon request – both allegations Huawei has strongly denied.

“We've never been asked to install a backdoor for espionage anywhere, there's no law that forces us to do it, we never did it, and we never will,” a company spokesperson said.

Such allegations have led to several countries banning Huawei 5G equipment or at least implementing safeguards which mitigate risks.

Back in 2010, the UK set up the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) where UK intelligence experts from its 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 is said to have been slow in addressing the concerns raised in the report.

A meeting earlier this month between Huawei executives and UK security officials 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.

Positive comments from Germany’s cybersecurity watchdog are not the end of Huawei’s woes in Europe. EU Tech Commissioner Andrud Ansip warned this month the bloc should be concerned about the company.

“We categorically reject any allegation that we might pose a security threat,” a Huawei spokesperson said in response to Ansip’s comments.

“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.”

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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