UK cybersecurity chief says Huawei risks can be contained

Any potential risks posed by the Chinese tech company, Huawei, to the UK’s telecoms infrastructure can be contained, UK cybersecurity chiefs have concluded.

The assessment from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which was initially reported by the Financial Times (FT), comes despite ongoing fears raised by the US that their equipment could be used in spying for the Chinese government.

Other nations, including Australia and New Zealand, have followed the US in banning Huawei’s networking equipment from 5G communication networks, citing “national security concerns” as the reason for barring their products.

Huawei 5G equipment

In Britain, BT and Vodafone have already removed Huawei equipment from its existing 3G and 4G operation and will not use the company’s gear in its 5G network.

However, despite mounting international pressure about the security issues of its equipment, Huawei has repeatedly denied the allegations that its technology is used for cyberespionage.

A source told the FT that the conclusion reached by the British government “would carry weight” with EU leaders, as the UK has access to sensitive US intelligence through its membership of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network.

“Other nations can make the argument that if the British are confident of mitigation against national security threats then they can also reassure their public and the US administration that they are acting in a prudent manner in continuing to allow their telecommunications service providers to use Chinese components as long as they take the kinds of precautions recommended by the British,” the source reportedly said.

MI6 Chief, Alex Younger, acknowledged the security concerns related to Huawei technology but said it was more “complicated issue than the ‘in and out’”.

In December, Huawei chief executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada and faces potential extradition to the US on charges of violating sanctions on Iran.

Review

The NSCS did not comment directly on the media report but reiterated concerns about Huawei’s engineering and security capabilities.

It said: “We have set out the improvements we expect the company to make.”

A spokesperson for the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport said: “The British government’s review of the right policy approach to 5G security and resilience is ongoing.

“The review is looking at a range of options and will conclude in the spring.

“No decisions have been taken and any suggestion to the contrary is inaccurate.”

 

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