Leaked Documents Implicate NSA in Spying on China’s Huawei

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Amid allegations the US National Security Agency had infiltrated its servers for the purpose of spying, network equipment supplier Huawei said it would condemn such tactics if they were true, according to reports.

On the weekend, The New York Times and German magazine SPIEGEL reported on leaked documents that implicate the NSA in trying to spy on Chinese politicians and firms including Huawei, a company thatprovides a lot of the infrastructure underpinning the internet and enterprise IT.

Huawei SVP and Global Cyber Security Officer John Suffolk told Reuters, “If the actions in the report are true, Huawei condemns such activities that invaded and infiltrated into our internal corporate network and monitored our communications.”

The China-based global company itself is the subject of scrutiny outside of China. For instance, the UK government has called for greater oversight of a Huawei cybersecurity center based in the UK, fearing it could pose a threat to national security. And Huawei is forbidden from broadband projects in the US and Australia.

Still, Huawei is making significant inroads to markets outside China. Web host LeaseWeb recently announced it would be bringing Huawei servers as an option for its dedicated hosting customers server product line along with Dell, HP and IBM servers. The company expects to pla a large role in cloud computing in the coming years, and estimates it will make $10 billion from its enterprise division by 2017.

Leaked documents reveal an NSA operation “Shotgiant” that was meant to uncover connections between Huawei and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, as well as exploit Huawei technology through which to conduct computer and telephone surveillance on various targets.

The NYT report said the NSA gained access to servers located in Huawei’s Shenzhen headquarters, and accessed information on the routers and digital switches as well as the names of over 1,400 clients and internal training documents for engineers.

There was also evidence that the NSA was building cyber weapons.

Huawei hardware has come under scrutiny for having security weaknesses and potential back door ways to access servers. Still, many network engineers would say that one should assume that network equipment will have back doors or security compromises, so they should build networks where a vulnerability basically doesn’t matter.

Either way, spying on Huawei or other suppliers and their equipment sends a mixed message about the importance of trusting network infrastructure.

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