Reported NSA snooping irks China’s Huawei

March 24, 2014 - 10:34:01 am

BERLIN: Chinese telecom and Internet company Huawei defended is independence yesterday and said it would condemn any infiltration of its servers by the US National Security Agency if reports of such activities by the NSA were true.

The New York Times and German magazine Der Spiegel reported this weekend, citing documents leaked by former US security contractor Edward Snowden, that the NSA had obtained sensitive data and monitored Huawei executives’ communications. 

“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,” Huawei’s global cyber security officer, John Suffolk, said. “Corporate networks are under constant probe and attack from different sources — such is the status quo in today’s digital age,” said Suffolk, defending Huawei’s independence and security record, saying it was very successful in 145 countries. 

The New York Times said one goal of the NSA operation, code-named “Shotgiant”, was to uncover any connections between Huawei and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. But it also sought to exploit Huawei’s technology and conduct surveillance through computer and telephone networks Huawei sold to other nations. If ordered by the US president, the NSA also planned to unleash offensive cyber operations, the newspaper said.

The paper said the NSA gained access to servers in Huawei’s sealed headquarters in Shenzhen and got information about the workings of the giant routers and complex digital switches the company says connect a third of the world’s people.

Der Spiegel said the NSA copied a list of more than 1,400 clients and internal training documents for engineers. It said the agency was pursuing a digital offensive against the Chinese political leadership, naming former Prime Minister Hu Jintao and the Chinese trade and foreign ministries as targets.

“If we can determine the company’s plans and intentions,” an analyst wrote in a 2010 document cited by the Times, “we hope that this will lead us back to the plans and intentions” of the Chinese government. The Times said US officials see Huawei as a security threat and have blocked the company from making business deals in the United States, worried it would furnish equipment with “back doors” that could enable China’s military or Chinese-backed hackers to swipe corporate and government secrets.

“We certainly don’t build ‘back doors’,” Huawei security chief Suffolk said. Suffolk, who is British, said the company never handed over its source codes to governments either.

“I can’t say what American firms do. We have never been asked to hand over any data to a government or authority or to facilitate access to our technology,” he said. Reuters

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