Let me be upfront about this: I do not trust this Huawei company. On the one hand, they could be like any other enterprise, trying to sell their products all across the world. On the other hand, they have ties to the Chinese military and keep trying to insert themselves into America's networking infrastructure.
A few years ago, they tried to buy supercomputer technology by acquiring the assets of 3Leaf Systems. They tried to acquire networking giant 3Com back in 2008. Then, in 2010, they tried to insert themselves into the Sprint Nextel network.
In each of these cases, surprisingly wise heads in the U.S. government interceded and prevented the company's incursion into our security infrastructure.
Now, you need to understand that while Huawei could be just another technology company, it probably isn't. Their CEO is a former Chinese military officer, the company has known ties to the Chinese military, and -- as we sadly know -- there's some concern about China's behavior when it comes to the United States.
- In China, many younger military leaders view America as the ultimate enemy
- Is China gearing up to start World War III?
- Welcome to the new Cold War: China vs. the United States
- Dear Mrs. Clinton: whether you believe it or not, China is a threat to America
- U.S. finally acknowledges Chinese and Russian cyberthreat
- Video: Should Americans worry about a Chinese cyber-threat?
Back in April, I wrote a piece expressing my concern about Symantec's joint venture with Huawei. I was very concerned that Huawei's code could find its way into all of our computers via Symantec's products (Disclosure: A long time ago, in a valley far, far away, I was an executive at Symantec).
Today, that threat may be reduced. I say "may" because there are still a lot of questions. Symantec is selling its stake in the joint venture back to Huawei.
Apparently, Symantec has chosen to distance itself from Huawei's worrisome security shenanigans and wants to cash out of the venture. Symantec employees will be reassigned. The troubling part of this story is that Symantec will be getting royalties for seven years on technology that Huawei is using. This, presumably, means that Symantec's security technology is visible and available to Huawei engineers.
And that's the crux of this entire issue: just how much of Symantec's security code does and has Huawei had access to? And how much of a risk does that present to American interests?
It remains a troubling relic of an ill-fated and ill-considered venture.
Articles on this from around the net:
- Reuters: Huawei buys Symantec stake in JV for $530 million
- TechEye: Huawei buys rest of Huawei-Symantec
- Forbes: Symantec Sells Stake In Joint Venture To Huawei For $530M
- Bloomberg: Huawei Plans to Acquire Symantec’s Stake in Joint Venture for $530 Million
- InfoWorld: Huawei buys out Symantec in joint venture
- SecurityWeek: Symantec Sells Its Stake in China Joint Venture
I'll leave you with one final thought. Huawei sells a line of network security appliances in America. Don't. Buy. Them.
Thanks go to reader Dwight Kunder who pointed out this news to me this morning, just as I was having my first cup of coffee.