Enlarge /. Huawei characters displayed at CES 2020 in Las Vegas on Wednesday January 8, 2020.
Chinese vendor Huawei has given a longer response to U.S. allegations of espionage by claiming that it does not have the espionage capabilities claimed by the U.S. and has pointed out that the U.S. itself has a long history of spying on phone networks.
"As the Snowden leaks show, the United States has been undercover accessing and spying on other countries around the world for some time," said Huawei in a six-paragraph statement sent to news organizations. "This week's report from the Washington Post on how the CIA has used an encryption company to spy on other countries for decades is further evidence." (This post report described in detail how the CIA bought a company called Crypto AG and used it to spy on communications for decades.)
Huawei's most recent statement came yesterday in response to a Wall Street Journal report quoting US officials as saying, "We have evidence that Huawei has the ability to access sensitive and personal information in systems that maintains and sells it worldwide. " The U.S. has released its information to allies to persuade them to stop using Huawei products, but has not yet released the evidence.
US allegations that Huawei is using legitimate surveillance are nothing more than a smoke screen – they do not adhere to any accepted logic in the area of cybersecurity. Huawei never has, and will never, covertly access telecommunications networks, nor do we have the opportunity to do so. The Wall Street Journal is aware that the US government cannot provide any evidence to back up its allegations, and yet it has decided to repeat the lies spread by these US officials. This reflects the Wall Street Journal's prejudices against Huawei and undermines its credibility.
Huawei says it can't handle carriers
According to the article in the magazine, manufacturers of telecommunications equipment that sell products to network operators must "be required by law that the authorities must have access to their hardware in order to be able to legally access the networks", "but also build devices so that the Manufacturer cannot get access without the consent of the network operator. "
The United States accuses Huawei of violating these laws by "building devices that keep the manufacturer's ability to access networks through these interfaces without network operators' knowledge," the article said in the magazine.
Huawei's statement claimed that what the US is saying is impossible:
Huawei is only one equipment supplier. In this role, access to customer networks would be impossible without their authorization and visibility. We are unable to bypass network operators, access control and extract data from their networks without being recognized by all normal firewalls or security systems. Even the Wall Street Journal admits that US officials cannot provide specific details about these so-called "back doors".
Huawei said that, like other telecommunications providers, "it is required to follow industry-standard interception standards such as the 3GPP standard TS 33.107 for 3G networks and TS 33.128 for 5G". The "eavesdropping interfaces are always located in protected rooms on the operator's side" and are managed and used "only by operators and supervisory authorities", Huawei said.
"Huawei also does not develop or manufacture listening devices," the company said.
Huawei said it was "outraged that the US government has made no effort to stigmatize Huawei through cybersecurity issues. If the US detects Huawei's violations, we will once again urge the US to provide concrete evidence rather than to the media To spread rumors. "
Despite Huawei's rejection, the United States is pushing ahead with measures to reduce the use of its devices in telecommunications networks. The Federal Communications Commission unanimously voted in November to ban Huawei and ZTE equipment for projects funded by the FCC Universal Service Fund. Chairman Ajit Pai argued that Huawei and ZTE "have close ties to the Chinese Communist government and military apparatus," and "are subject to Chinese law, which largely obliges them to cooperate and keep all requests secret from the country's intelligence agencies."
Importance of encryption
The US / Huawei dispute illustrates the importance of encryption. Because governments and malicious actors have covert access to telephone networks, individuals can rely on encryption to reduce the risk of their data being stolen.
However, the U.S. government has attempted to undermine people's access to strong encryption by forcing Apple and other technology providers to incorporate back doors into their products. Apple has denied government requests to compromise the security of its products, saying back doors must be discovered and used by malicious people.
U.S. allegations that Huawei is secretly using backdoors designed for law enforcement would back up security experts' arguments that it is not possible to create back doors that only law enforcement users can access.