Clive Williams, a former director of security intelligence for the Australian Defence Force writes:
Much of the recent media reporting about the potential security threat posed by Huawei telecommunications and networking equipment, and Huawei consumer electronics products, is poorly informed and smacks of hysteria.
Fuelled by the US.
Huawei is now a multinational company and the world’s largest producer of electronic products. It has cooperative arrangements with 80 percent of the world’s telecom companies so it’s very common for its products to be integrated into all types of telecommunications systems.
Huawei invests more than any of its competitors on research and development – an estimated US$15 billion in 2018. It has research institutes in 21 countries – including the US, UK and Canada, and has international programs to identify and employ the best and brightest technical graduates from universities.
Huawei has a workforce of 170,000 and in 2017 its revenue was US$92.5 billion. 76,000 of its workforce are engaged in research and development.
Which is why they produce such good products used by almost every telco in the world.
In 2014 The New York Times reported (based on documents leaked by defector Edward Snowden) that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had since 2007 been operating a covert program against Huawei. This had involved breaking into Huawei’s internal networks, including its headquarters’ networks and founder Ren Zhengfei’s communications.
Good when NSA does it. Bad when Russia does it.
The main security concern is that Huawei could be used by the Chinese government to engage in espionage and information warfare. (There is no available evidence that it has done so to date.) This is unfortunate for Huawei because the company seems focussed on being commercially successful – not on espionage or cyber warfare.
The irony of what is happening, is it provides greater incentives to China to pressure Huawei to do bad things. Huawei is worth much more to China as a successful company, at present. But if the US manage to cripple Huawei, then that may change.
As long as advanced telecommunications products (including 5G) are installed in Australia by competent security-vetted Australian technicians who understand the technology, there should not be a security problem from using foreign products.
The likely alternative to adopting Huawei’s 5G technology is to use a lesser American or European product that may also be compromisable – and probably more expensive.
Banning Huawei means we all pay more.