Huawei is not spying on you

'If Huawei had quantum technology, it wouldn't be shipping it in the guise of $50 microchips'
23 May 2019

A Huawei store in Chengdu. Source: Shutterstock

Let’s get this absolutely straight and up front: Huawei is not selling hardware that can spy on you, your company, or your government. It has not done so, nor will it, in overwhelming likelihood, ever do so.

Here are some key facts:

1. Messages sent over the internet consist of tiny packets of data, represented by fluctuations in electrical current. As such they are physically detectable, not magically invisible, according to the laws of physics as we understand them.

Messages that are sending information to Beijing are detectable. If Huawei had the capability to use quantum entanglement or similar esoteric method to convey data to China, it wouldn’t be shipping such technology overseas in the guise of US$50 microchips. Taking that to a level further on, Huawei probably wouldn’t be trying to sell smartphones.

2. The only mention of Huawei’s apparent spying methods was a statement made by Bloomberg that hardware had been sold to SuperMicro and Apple that contained a chip that sent data to China. The claims were confirmed to be false by Apple, Amazon and SuperMicro.

3. There has never been any proof of the existence of any spying methods in Chinese hardware, or indeed, any equipment from anywhere in the world that contains mass-produced technology to send messages surreptitiously. The only instance of anything like that ever taking place were the Specter and Meltdown malwares, that exploited flaws in Intel’s microprocessors. Those flaws were accidental, not baked into semiconductors for any nefarious purpose.

So what is really going on?

In the simplest of terms, it’s protectionism from the Chinese giant technology company, and by proxy, from Chinese companies in general.

From its commanding position in its domestic market, Huawei could dominate hardware markets all over the world – not just in smartphones, but in semiconductors, networking hardware, and of course, in 5G. In fact, the company is so far ahead in the race to make 5G a viable product, that its products are ready to put onto trucks for installation, now. Any country wishing to roll out the new fast mobile data service will have to buy Huawei hardware. Or wait for two or three years.

America and Europe are still licking their wounds from the massive decline in their automotive industries from the far east, especially Japan and South Korea. Chinese concerns already threaten whole industries like steel production, solar power, manufacturing, and now, technology. Spreading rumors and getting your buddies overseas to repeat them chimes in nicely with the general mood that predominates in politics in the West.

Whether or not the world will swallow messages that Huawei and the Chinese are threatening our way of life (by tracking what we do on Facebook) depends on several factors. But a basic understanding of technology and a broader and more considered view should go a long way to prove that we’re being duped.