Huawei will need 5 years and $2b to resolve UK security concerns: Report

Security concerns found by the UK government last year will take between three and five years to resolve, Huawei has reportedly said, while it also awaits European decisions on whether it can take part in 5G deployments.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Huawei has reportedly said it would take three to five years and a $2 billion investment to resolve the security issues found in a British report last year.

"Enhancing our software engineering capabilities is like replacing components on a high-speed train in motion," CEO of the Huawei carrier business group Ryan Ding told the UK Parliament's Science and Technology Select Committee in a letter last week, according to Reuters.

"It is a complicated and involved process, and will take at least three to five years to see tangible results. We hope the UK government can understand this."

Ding reportedly added that Huawei "has never and will never" use its equipment for Chinese state espionage.

The report from the UK government's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was published in July last year, finding two low-priority national security findings and two advisory issues in its annual evaluation of the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC).

The HCSEC, located in Oxfordshire, was launched in November 2010 to help mitigate any potential risks from using Huawei technology in the UK's critical national infrastructure.

The oversight board identified "technical issues" in Huawei's engineering processes, which it said could cause "new risks in the UK telecommunications networks". Four products were then found by the NCSC to be lacking binary equivalence, while an additional issue was found in Huawei's use of commercial and open-source third-party components, with not all being managed through the agreed process.

The oversight board additionally pointed out medium-term concerns for incoming technologies, including software-defined networking, network virtualisation, edge computing, and 5G.

Huawei awaits 5G decision in Europe

Reuters also reported that the Italian government has denied that it will ban Huawei and fellow Chinese networking company ZTE from its 5G rollouts.

"We have no intention of adopting any such initiatives," Italy's industry ministry reportedly said.

"National security is a priority and if any critical issues emerged -- which to date have not -- the ministry would assess whether or not to take measures."

In Germany, Reuters said ministers have been meeting to discuss the possibility of a Huawei 5G ban after Angela Merkel earlier this week set conditions for the company's participation in the nation's new mobile network, including guarantees from the company that it would not hand over information to the Chinese government.

Huawei is also willing to accept European government supervision, Reuters said.

"Cybersecurity should remain as a technical issue instead of an ideological issue, because technical issues can always be resolved through the right solutions while ideological issues cannot," Huawei's chief representative to the EU Institutions and VP of the European Region Abraham Liu is set to say in a speech during Huawei's Chinese New Year event in Brussels, according to Reuters.

"We are always willing to accept the supervision and suggestions of all European governments, customers, and partners."

Huawei is additionally offering to construct a cybersecurity hub in Poland "if authorities accept this as a trusted solution", Reuters reported Huawei Poland head Tonny Bao as saying.

Huawei was banned by the Australian government in August 2018 from playing a role in any 5G rollouts due to national security issues stemming from concerns of foreign government interference in critical communications infrastructure.

Huawei HQ at the time slammed the Australian government's decision, saying it was not based in fact or a result of a transparent process, but rather, motivated by political instability.

As well as Australia, Huawei's 5G equipment in recent months has also been banned or limited by the US and New Zealand, while the UK's BT said it will be stripping Huawei from EE's mobile core.

South Korea's largest carrier also announced that its 5G vendors would be Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung, with Huawei left off its list, while the New York Times last monthreported that Vodafone has also temporarily stopped buying Huawei equipment for its 5G core network.

Over in Canada, meanwhile, Justice William Ehrcke postponed the next court appearance for Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou to March, as the daughter of Huawei's founder faces extradition to the US.

The indictment against Meng claims that during meetings with an unnamed banking institution in the US, she misrepresented Huawei's ownership and control of Iranian affiliate Skycom, as well as its compliance with UN, US, and EU sanctions.

Huawei is also facing counts for conspiracy to defraud the United States; violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA); violate the IEEPA; commit money laundering; and obstruct justice. 

The company is also facing allegations, for a separate indictment, that it conspired to steal intellectual property from T-Mobile and subsequently obstructed justice. The alleged activity occurred during 2012-13, and relates to Huawei's attempt to build a robot similar to the one T-Mobile was using at the time to test mobile phones.

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