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UK Changes Stance On Safety Of Huawei’s 5G Equipment

Telecoms in Zimbabwe, Infrastructure sharing

In February Huawei got some good press after the UK announced they wouldn’t be banning use of 5G equipment from the Chinese company as they felt they could limit the risks of using Huawei’s equipment.

It seems the UK is now shifting the goal posts slightly as a report by the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre to the National Security Adviser of the UK raises a number of concerns that may result in a potential ban.

The report raises some red flags with the following two standing out:


i) Further significant technical issues have been identified in Huawei’s engineering processes, leading to new risks in the UK telecommunications networks.

ii) No material progress has been made by Huawei in the remediation of the issues reported last year, making it inappropriate to change the level of assurance from last year or to make any comment on potential future levels of assurance.

HCSEC’s report to the Cyber Security Adviser of the UK

The report therefore notes that the Overisght Board can’t really give assurances that long-term risks of using this equipment can be managed since they feel no progress was made in rectifying issues raised last year.

More damningly however, is the part of the report where the Oversight Board states that they ” can only provide limited assurance that all risks to UK national security from Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s critical networks can be sufficiently mitigated long-term.”

What’s changed?

Basically a month ago, the UK was said to be OK with continued use of Huawei’s equipment but it seems that position is very quickly turning into one of doubt.

Huawei’s Head of R&D is said to have played down the report and said this is not uncommon and every supplier’s equipment “was bound to have vulnerabilities”:

The report does not suggest UK networks are more vulnerable than last year .

David Wang – Huawei Head of R&D

I’m not sure how likely it is but there could be an element of political pressure coming from the USA. The US has a pretty hard stance on Huawei right now and they are pretty adamant on making sure most of their allies don’t use Huawei equipment for “security reasons”. Britain may be giving in to the US’s will on this one but that’s more of a guess on my part than anything else.

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