Vodafone claims backdoors found in Huawei gear in 2009

BRITAIN-CHINA-POLITICS-SECUTIRY-TELECOM-HUAWEI

BRITAIN-CHINA-POLITICS-SECUTIRY-TELECOM-HUAWEI

Why it's important: Vodafone's reports of backdoors found in Huawei equipment support allegations made by the U.S. that Huawei's equipment is vulnerable to exploitation, particularly by the Chinese government.

The news comes as Huawei is battling a US -led charge against the company.

Vodafone apparently discovered hidden backdoors in Huawei equipment as far back as 2011. The revelation comes from Vodafone documents from 2009-2011, which Bloomberg received access to, as well as other sources inside Vodafone that were reportedly involved.

The US said on Monday that it would review intelligence sharing with the United Kingdom if Theresa May did not reverse her decision to allow Huawei's equipment to be used in the UK's next-generation mobile network.

Vodafone found the vulnerabilities when buying equipment for its Italian business.

In a subsequent statement, Vodafone criticized the Bloomberg story.

Vodafone disputed the report in an emailed statement, saying the "backdoor" mentioned is a protocol used to perform diagnostic functions and wouldn't have been accessible from the internet.

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The backdoors were found in Vodafone Italy's fixed-line network, on the optical service nodes, which are responsible for transporting internet traffic over fibre cables and the authentication of subscribers.

"We have no evidence of any unauthorised access".

However, mobile operators such as Vodafone have warned that a complete ban on Huawei would delay 5G, which will offer much faster data speeds and underpin future development in many industries, such as self-driving cars.

Huawei has previously denied that it creates backdoors for its equipment and often claims that suspicions of Huawei are just a "loser's attitude" because American tech companies can't compete fairly.

"The issues were identified by independent security testing, initiated by Vodafone as part of our routine security measures, and fixed at the time by Huawei", a Vodafone spokesman said.

However, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that security flaws in both routers and fixed access network hardware persisted beyond 2012, adding that those flaws were also identified in hardware embedded in Vodafone's businesses in the UK, Spain, Germany, and Portugal.

"What is of most concern here is that actions of Huawei in agreeing to remove the code, then trying to hide it, and now refusing to remove it as they need it to remain for "quality" purposes".

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