07 May 2019

Bloomberg’s suspicions on Huawei’s hidden ‘back doors’ could be politically motivated

Bloomberg have reported that Vodafone had discovered ‘hidden back doors’ in Huawei’s home equipment, including an internet router in 2009/2010, that would allow the Chinese company unauthorised access to user’s home and business fixed line networks in Italy.

Vodafone has admitted vulnerabilities, which were identified by independent security testing initiated by Vodafone as part of their security measures. They contested the timeline and said that the issues were resolved in 2011 and 2012, which involved removing a diagnostic function just after development. The ‘back door’ that Bloomberg have referred to is Telnet. This is a protocol that is commonly used by many vendors in the industry for performing diagnostic functions. It would not have been accessible from the internet and so to state that this would have given Huawei access to Vodafone’s fixed line network in Italy is not true.

Bloomberg say that this further damages the reputation of Huawei, which is already facing a ream of accusations from the US over the ties to the Chinese Government and spying. Allegations that both Huawei and Beijing both deny. However, journalists from the American media company – Bloomberg, said that they saw confidential security reports with their own eyes and it tells a different story.

Yair Cohen, Social Media Lawyer, suspects that Bloomberg’s report is politically motivated.

Yair: ‘A back door is a necessity. It is always important to have a back door to equipment in order to fix bugs and service it and it would be quite unusual for a router, for example, not to have a back door. There is probably an element of politics here. It cannot be a coincidence at a time where effectively there is a trade war between the USA and China and all of those attempts to block access and suddenly, there are people reporting to Bloomberg – an American company, that there has been some breach from 8 or 9 years ago.’

The US launched investigations about trading with China in 2017 and it imposed tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese products last year and Beijing retaliated in kind. The US and China have been locked in an escalating trade battle since. The US is moving to ban the use of Huawei’s equipment and is lobbying its allies to do the same.

It cannot be a coincidence that suddenly, this allegation is being made about Huawei having access to Vodafone’s client’s networks, when there hasn’t been any evidence of unauthorised access.

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