Looking into Alleged Huawei Backdoors

U.S. has been working on nothing but the legal ban of Huawei products, and now Italian company Vodafone is dragging Huawei through the mud as well.  But as much as I feel bad for them, Huawei seems to be doing this to themselves. Wherever Huawei goes, security concerns rise, this story is no different.

  • When One Door Closes…

Huawei and security concerns are an iconic duo, and this isn’t a recent development.  Actually, Huawei has been catching flak for their security since the early 2000’s. One early incident involved Vodafone and Huawei’s routers.

Vodafone, arguably the largest mobile phone operator in Europe, noticed that Huawei had implemented backdoors into their routers and network equipment back in 2011.  When confronted, Huawei explained that the backdoors were kept for security testing purposes, but that they’d remove the backdoors.  

Issue solved, right?  Not exactly, as Vodafone noticed that Huawei ended up leaving some backdoors open.  Even worse, there were backdoors in Huawei’s “optical service nodes”, which control and regulate Internet traffic.  According to Vodafone, these backdoors presented a risk of consumer’s data and connections being hijacked by third-party threats and hackers.

These backdoors persist today, according to an article done by Bloomberg, yet Vodafone continues to work with Huawei.  Worse than that, Vodafone defends Huawei and their actions.

 

  • Another Door Opens.

Currently, these backdoors are only building a case against Huawei in the United States.  The United States has been attempting to get rid of the large smartphone manufacturer for a few years now but has only been able to find success in the past year.  Recently, the United States government has banned Huawei products from being sold in the U.S., though Huawei is fighting back in their own lawsuit.

Vodafone claims that the reason they still work with Huawei instead of another vendor is because they’re “competitively priced”, but is that truly a good reason?  Huawei hasn’t built up years of suspicion for no reason, and while it’s easy to call all of it paranoia, it’s hard to ignore the coincidences.

But let’s give Huawei a fair shake, they’re not the first vendor to have backdoors in their routers.  Backdoors in network equipment is actually a pretty common occurrence, though the backdoors are usually installed as a manufacturing test.  

But Huawei made themselves a bit harder to defend since they decided to leave the backdoors.  While Vodafone said that no data was compromised through the backdoors, the risk still remains, and why Huawei is letting that risk stay around is incomprehensible.

  • The Future of Huawei’s Doors

Huawei has experienced quite a reputation hit because of their recent scandals.  At first, the U.S. only suspected Huawei of sharing data with the Chinese government, as Huawei has always been close to the government.  Since then, Huawei has seen round after round of evidence come out against them. Will Huawei be able to survive the hits they are taking?

After all, Huawei has already been banned from the U.S., Australia, Japan and Taiwan.  According to Bloomberg, countries like Canada and New Zealand are likely to ban the smartphone manufacturer as well.  This essentially cuts Huawei’s market in half, which will undermine Huawei’s goal of becoming the #1 smartphone manufacturer globally.

Right now, Huawei is coasting by their 5G network plan, which has them installing 5G network infrastructure across multiple countries, including the U.S., but recent events have us questioning if this will take place.  Will the U.S. let Huawei plant network infrastructure that may have backdoors?

 

Bloomberg has put Huawei in a corner with this recent article.  Scratch that, Bloomberg has just shrunken the already-small corner Huawei has been in.  

Huawei makes great products at a competitive price, which is exactly what the world needs.  But great products mean nothing if the price we pay for it is our security, and that’s something Huawei has to make clear before they truly become #1.

Backdoor data access is just one way that your privacy might be breached. If you think that someone might be spying on you, take time to understand where and how you’re leaking and patch the gap with privacy software and hardware for consumers.

 

Jack is a tech blogger and content marketer specializing in online security and privacy. He spends his time split between Western Canada and Asia Pacific.