Huawei faces fresh 5G security concerns in UK

Huawei faces renewed concerns over 5G cybersecurity, as discussions extend to NATO.
5 February 2019

Huawei has submitted a formal notice announcing the termination of its lobbying efforts at the Capitol, signaling a more substantial attempt from China to decouple from the US. Source: AFP.

Facing allegations across the Western world that Beijing could use its technology to tamper in foreign telecommunications networks, Chinese technology giant Huawei now has to answer questions in the borders of the UK.

This latest revelation will have far-reaching implications for the government, businesses, and individuals as the future of 5G rollouts in the UK could face lengthy delays as a result.

According to the Telegraph, the next annual report from the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre will find that issues raised from a previous investigation have not been addressed and will criticize Huawei over the security of its technology.

In July last year, an investigation led by GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Center warned that the government had “only limited assurance” that the company’s hardware does not pose a threat to national security due to “shortcomings” exposing risks in the UK’s telecoms networks.

The report pointed out that Huawei’s processes continue to fall short of “industry good practice”, making it difficult to provide long term assurance. Sources familiar with the draft told the Telegraph that the document will criticize Huawei over its security, despite a pledge by the company to address the vulnerabilities in its equipment at a cost of approximately US$2 billion.

In the UK, Vodafone has paused the installation on Huawei hardware in its core networks, while BT and EE have also indicated that they will remove Huawei devices from their core 3G and 4G networks in the next two years.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) released a statement and stressed that it is committed to the security of UK networks and that they have a regular dialogue with Huawei about the criteria that is expected of its products.

NATO considers Huawei ban

According to Sky News, concerns among NATO members have led the organization into discussions around a “common position”, which could include a ban on contracts with Huawei in member states.

The United States has already blocked the purchase of Huawei equipment by government bodies, while Australia has banned it entirely. Ian West, NATO’s cybersecurity chief, said he anticipated more would be said publicly on the matter in the coming weeks as scrutiny of the Chinese technology giant continues.

“There is a general position on not having non-NATO contracts. Our procurement rules say that we must procure from allied nations’ industry or industry that has been approved by allied nations,” said West.

“We know that a number of our allies have expressed concerns over Huawei, particularly in relation to the 5G network.

“That’s why we’re now consulting with our allies to find out, to get more information about what they know, and see whether or not that would have any effect on NATO.”