October 15, 2019
According to a privately circulated risk assessment prepared by European governments, the European Union (EU) has identified security threats coming from foreign telecommunications equipment vendors, raising particular concerns about Huawei Technologies Co. A public report was released and warned of hostile states or state-backed companies posing a threat to new 5G networks rolling out across the globe. These promise faster connection speeds and the ability to link many devices (cars, pacemakers, and more) to the Internet.
Huawei is the world’s largest telecom equipment maker and a big supplier of network gear for European economies like the U.K. and Germany, reports The Wall Street Journal. European leaders plan to provide guidelines for members states regarding how to approach 5G-related security concerns.
“The draft analysis doesn’t name Huawei specifically as a suspect vendor. But the Chinese company’s large market position as a seller of equipment in Europe makes it the only significant target of scrutiny as a non-European supplier,” explains The Wall Street Journal.
According to the analysis, several EU members have identified techniques that could be used in attacks, “including the possibility that a vendor could insert concealed hardware, malicious software and software flaws into the 5G network,” or the risk of “uncontrolled software updates, manipulation of functionalities, inclusion of functions to bypass audit mechanisms, backdoors, undocumented testing features left in the production version, among others,” reports WSJ.
Some U.S. diplomats see this assessment and the included security concerns as a good thing, as the U.S. (along with Australia) has warned European allies about Huawei for some time in terms of national security risks, concerned that the company could be forced by Beijing to spy on networks.
According to WSJ, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in the U.K. said the country “firmly upholds cybersecurity and opposes and cracks down on all forms of cyber attack and cyber theft.”