Friday, May 7, 2010
Huawei part of Chinese spy network says R&AW
Soon after I had published a post on Huawei, the Chinese Telecom equipment company, I came across this article in the Economic Times giving the reasons behind the banning of Huawei in India.
Huawei part of Chinese spy network, says R&AW
7 May 2010,
Economic Times Bureau
NEW DELHI: Chinese telecom major Huawei may aggressively deny any link to the China’s People’s Liberation Army, but independent assessments of Indian intelligence agencies so far clearly point out that PLA remains a customer of the company and has become more involved with it.
The security concerns of Indian intelligence agencies about Huawei’s close connection with the Chinese security establishment are shared by the US administration and had led the latter to cancel Huawei’s 2008 bid to pick up stake in 3Com.
Even British intelligence agencies have warned that the Chinese could cripple IT-dependent telecom infrastructure and critical services like water, power and food supplies by embedding malware in equipment installed by firms such as Huawei and ZTE.
According to security assessments of Huawei Technologies put together by R&AW, the Chinese firm not only shares ties with the Chinese security establishment but is also suspected to be a part of its intelligence set-up. Not only was it founded by retired PLA officer Ren Zhengfei, a former director of the Information Engineering Academy of the PLA’s general staff department, in 1988, but one of the members on the company’s board was an officer of the PRC ministry of state security.
Huawei, intelligence inputs collected over a period of time point out, is responsible for sweeping and debugging all Chinese embassies and their expertise extends to bugging of the target telecommunication and computer systems. This explains Huawei’s involvement in projects for military purposes in Iraq during the Saddam Hussein regime and also in telecom projects in Afghanistan during the Taliban rule.
Given the adverse reports of Huawei’s alleged role in bugging systems for the benefit of the Chinese security establishment, the communication ministry has warned BSNL to test all equipment supplied by the Chinese firm for “trapdoors, black box, malwares” and check if it is susceptible to remote hacking before it can be allow to be operational.
Though BSNL was allowed to award telecom network contract to Huawei, it was to restrict the orders to southern states as they do not share borders with sensitive countries such as China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The communications ministry also warned that networks provided by Huawei could go live only after all requisite audits were completed.
Security concerns over Huawei links with PLA are not restricted to Indian agencies alone. The Chinese telecom major’s proposal to purchase stake in 3Com, the US firm manufacturing internet router and networking equipment, was shot down after the US administration questioned the deal’s security implications. A reluctance of approval followed and the lucrative $2.2-billion deal — wherein Huawei had invited Boston-based private equity firm Bain Capital to jointly acquire 3Com — was cancelled in February 2008. The fact that 3Com makes anti-hacking computer software for the military and that Huawei has ties with PLA raised an alarm with the US authorities, leading them to disallow the deal.
According to R&AW reports, the US administration was concerned that Huawei would be able to alter the electronic equipment and computer software sold to the military in a way that would make these less effective in real-time operations.
Adverse security assessments of Huawei have also led British security agencies to warn of China’s attempts to hit telecom infrastructure as well as water, power and food supplies through equipment installed by Huawei through covert modifications to compromise systems in ways that are difficult to detect and could later be disrupted or disabled.