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Cybersecurity firm says Huawei’s telecom equipment is easier to hack

Published Jun 26th, 2019 7:37PM EDT
Huawei vs US
Image: JEROME FAVRE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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Another day, another shot fired in the ongoing war between the US and all things Huawei. The Wall Street Journal is out with a new story today focused on research blasting Huawei telecom equipment as more vulnerable to being hacked than equipment from its rivals — a report that the White House has apparently reviewed and has been used as confirmation of the overall US stance against Huawei.

Among the findings of the new research, which was done by Ohio-based cybersecurity firm Finite State: More than half of the firmware images encoded into hundreds of variations of enterprise network-equipment devices the Journal reports that researchers tested contained at least one “exploitable vulnerability.” Moreover, an unnamed White House official is quoted as saying the research supports its assertion that for a decade now, Huawei has maintained secretive access to some of the telecom systems it’s installed for customers outside of China — access which the official says Huawei doesn’t disclose and which enables the Chinese tech giant to “record information and modify databases on those local systems.”

The main takeaway from this new report is that Huawei equipment is pretty crappy, thanks to “poor security decisions” from the company’s engineers. However, while the research documents a number of flaws and vulnerabilities, it does not go so far as to assert that Huawei has built these weaknesses on purpose. Nor does it offer any evidence to bolster US officials’ assertion that Huawei serves as a proxy for Chinese espionage by spying on customers on behalf of the government.

Still, the research is liable to add new fuel to fan the flames of anti-Huawei sentiment in the top echelon of the US government, which in May added the company to a blacklist by citing national security concerns.

Huawei is based in Shenzhen, China, and is the leading telecommunications equipment provider in the world. In a statement about the new research, a company official said: “We cannot comment on the professionalism and robustness of the analysis.”

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.