In 2012, the US government made unequivocal statements about Huawei, a well known Chinese telecommunications company and claimed that the company’s networking equipment were a security threat. This move discouraged all US operated telecom companies from using any kind of Huawei equipment in their networks. In an ironic turn of events, it has been discovered that the US government appears to be doing something very similar to what it accused Huawei of two years back. According to a report from the New York Times the NSA has created its own “back doors” which hook directly into Huawei’s telecommunications networks for the sole intention of collecting information on the variety of hardware that the company claims connects a third of the global population including having most of our telecom companies here in Uganda..
According to the report, the NSA also monitored communications of the company’s top executives and also searched for any connections between Huawei and the People’s Liberation Army (of which Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei was a member). The report further indicates that the NSA even wanted to have access to networking equipment that Huawei was selling to other countries so that it could monitor and search through both computer and telephone networks as it wanted.
The leaked NSA document reportedly says:
“Many of our targets communicate over Huawei-produced products. We want to make sure that we know how to exploit these products to gain access to networks of interest — including networks of countries around the world.
In response, a Huawei senior executive told the Times that:
The irony is that exactly what they are doing to us is what they have always charged that the Chinese are doing through us,”
It’s just the latest in an ongoing cybersecurity battle between the US and China at large and we shall see where it all ends up.