Huawei: Should you put it in your data center?

Moderated by Larry Dignan | October 15, 2012 -- 07:00 GMT (00:00 PDT)

Summary: A U.S. House of Representatives report says no. But is this a question of security or competition?

Robin Harris

Robin Harris




David Gewirtz

David Gewirtz

Best Argument: No


Audience Favored: No (79%)

Closing Statements

America needs strong competition

Robin Harris

Robin Harris Huawei-bashing scores easy points with the cheap seats, but our security issues are real and larger than a single company. We have a systemic failure to achieve reasonable security, aided and abetted by US security agencies and law-enforcement who want their own back doors. Does anyone believe that an NSA-engineered back door is any less dangerous than a Chinese one?

While the government could do more to police the requirements for and use of telecom infrastructure, it is up to individuals and companies to take responsibility too. And that means spending time and money - which no one wants to do - to achieve a goal whose returns are difficult to quantify while they impact quarterly results today. How much value does Wall Street place on security spending? Zip, that's what.

Which is why we need a muscular government role in ensuring security. We need a set of ground rules that all competitors have to play by. Will the government do a perfect job? Of course not. But they'll do a better job than individual companies will, just as the FAA has given us much safer airplanes and the FDA has given us safer drugs.

Telecom is now at least as important as airplanes and drugs and deserves the same attention.

No reason to take a chance

David Gewirtz

David Gewirtz This debate isn’t about xenophobia and it isn’t about Republicans (or Democrats for that matter). It’s about protecting our companies from a vendor that has been found to produce unsafe products. If we found that a vendor was selling Americans tainted food or selling toys that could harm our kids, we’d do our best to protect consumers. This is no different – the stakes are just as high because so many people depend on data centers to safeguard their data, their financial records, and even their health records. Lives can potentially be destroyed if this stuff is compromised.

Let this be a caution to other predatory companies and nations throughout the world. We welcome competing with international suppliers in the open market based on product and service quality. But if we catch you attempting to harm or spy on our citizens, our industries, or our government facilities, we will respond with all due speed and unity.

And the winner is...

Larry Dignan

Overall, these rebuttals may have been among our best yet. Robin and David both made points reflecting their sides, but also noted how politics, technology and infrastructure sometimes clash. I think the bottom line is that David's arguments won largely because there's enough Huawei uncertainty to warrant caution. In IT, there's a saying that you'll never get fired for buying IBM, Cisco and other large vendors.

Huawei will have to land some big U.S. accounts then get those customers to evangelize. Huawei may very well be a political punching bag, but IT buyers will ultimately decide whether it makes it in the U.S.


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  • watch the smart guys at work

    FX already found and demonstrated serious buffer overflow holes in Huawei routers at the July DefCon. Fortunately foolish misinformed types like Harris who spout their ignorance all over the internet are not running this show.
    Reply 1 Vote I'm for No
  • How I wish that were true...

    "Only by integrating China into the world economy do we give them incentive to behave."

    Oh how I wish that were true.
    Reply 3 Votes I'm Undecided
    • Robin mentions that

      "Huawei and ZTE should fund a US security lab, staffed by Americans with security clearances, to beat up their gear and test for backdoors.should fund a US security lab, staffed by Americans with security clearances, to beat up their gear and test for backdoors."

      Good question - why haven't Huawei and ZTE offered that up? Are they afraid of something?
      William Farrel
      Reply Vote I'm Undecided
    • Thanks to melamine, lead, drywall,

      slave labor conditions, and a list as tall as the Empire State Building, the history of China's inclusion has not been anywhere near what the rainbow unicorn peddlers have suggested. China has not behaved, and who is responsible - their government, their companies and the management (since workers who don't do what management says are "insubordinate"), or anything or anyone else...
      Reply Vote I'm Undecided
  • Email Links

    Any chance you can fix the links in the zdnet emails? The one for this debate just goes to the zdnet home page. Same with the previous debate as well.
    Reply Vote I'm Undecided
    • Must be because of a ...

      Chinese router!
      Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • Hungry...

        I just had a Chinese router an hour ago and now I'm hungry again.
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided
  • Keep your friends close

    and your enemies closer!
    Reply Vote I'm for Yes
  • To many GOOD American companies out there like Enterasys to bother with ZTE

    They may be great products but there are to many GOOD American companies out there. Companies like Enterasys/Siemens who have a great enterprise security network platform to bother with anything questionable at this point.
    Reply Vote I'm for No
    • Oy...

      Now hold on here. This debate is not touching on key issues here. They barely referenced the actual report, and at least half of this debate is them taking shots at each others remarks.

      Also, David calls for Hauwei to be moved to completely open source. I doubt Cisco or other competitors would ever do that, so why should they?

      Stryode, get real! That is an exploit, its going to be pretty tough for you to convince me that an EXPLOIT was put there purposely as a backdoor (esp, a buffer overflow). I mean, Windows has issues every time a new patch comes out, yet I don't see you questioning them.

      I don't see you questioning Cisco Safeharbor for telling me NOT to update to a certain patch to ensure my network setup is stable.

      It appears that once again the public can't distinguish GOVERNMENTS from CORPORATIONS. Yes, China is quite heavy handed in dealing with their own corporations as well as external corporations. But how many companies over here do research for the US government? How many former military men and cops are in high positions in the IT world in the US? How many corporations would fold if the government asked for information?

      I agree with Robin, and add my own information:

      It is a security professionals JOB to ensure that everything they put on their network is safe. NOT THE COMPANY THEY BUY FROM.

      Also, it is a security professionals job to assume anything that is untested is unsecure.

      Simple as that. It doesn't matter what company it came from, or what country. If your allowing compromised products on your network, your not doing your job. And sure, as scary as it sounds for an entire network to fall into the hands of the Chinese at the click of a button, use your technical knowledge and remember how improbable it is.
      Reply 1 Vote I'm Undecided