Monday, 18 February 2019 07:59

UK cyber centre concludes Huawei risk can be mitigated: report Featured

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UK cyber centre concludes Huawei risk can be mitigated: report Pixabay

Britain's National Cyber Security Centre has concluded that it can mitigate any risk posed by using equipment from Chinese telecommunications vendor Huawei Technologies in the country's 5G networks.

The NCSC's conclusion, reported by London's Financial Times on Sunday, was conveyed to the paper by two individuals said to be familiar with the agency's finding and said there were ways to limit the risks from using the company's gear in future ultra-fast networks.

The conclusion was characterised as a "serious blow" to ongoing American efforts to persuade European and other countries not to use Chinese equipment in 5G networks.

Huawei has set up a Cyber Security Evaluation Centre where its staff work alongside members of the NCSC to sort out any issues perceived as causing security issues for British networks. Each year, the CSEC's Oversight Board issues a report, outlining issues, if any.

Earlier this month, Ryan Ding, the head of Huawei's Carrier Business Group, wrote to Norman Lamb, the chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, saying that the company would take between three and five years to fix security concerns identified in a report by the Oversight Board in 2018.

Last week, Robert Hannigan, the former head of Government Communications Headquarters, Britain's top spy agency, wrote in an op-ed in the FT that statements claiming that the use of any Chinese technology in any part of a 5G network represented an unacceptable risk were nonsense.

Hannigan said, in part that Western countries should accept that China would be a global tech power in the future and start managing the risk immediately, rather than pretend that the West could turn as blind eye to China's inevitable technological rise.

Sunday's report quoted one of the people it cited as saying the British conclusion would influence European decision-making given that the UK is part of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing partnership with the US that also includes Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The US has been campaigning for at least the last two years to try and get countries that it considers allies not to use Huawei equipment in the rollout of 5G networks. Australia has bowed to these wishes, as has New Zealand.

As iTWire  reported last Wednesday, US President Donald Trump was said to be ready to issue an executive order last week banning the use of telecommunications equipment from Chinese companies in American wireless networks.

The source told the newspaper: "Other nations can make the argument that if the British are confident of mitigation against national security threats then they can also reassure their publics and the US administration that they are acting in a prudent manner in continuing to allow their telecommunications service providers to use Chinese components as long as they take the kinds of precautions recommended by the British.”

iTWire has contacted the NCSC for further comment.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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