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UK government looks into concerns over Huawei and security

Relations with UK firms under scrutiny
Thu Oct 11 2012, 15:16

THE UK GOVERNMENT is considering whether Huawei is the sort of company that it wants to be involved with following similar investigations in the US and elsewhere.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, chairman of Parliament's intelligence and security committee, told the Guardian newspaper that there will be a review of the use of the firm's hardware in UK telecoms networks.

A spokesperson for the committee has confirmed that it is looking into claims and concerns. It has, however, shut the door on saying anything else about that for now.

BT was more vocal, telling us that despite what the US is saying, it is unlikely to change who it works with because it has already established a good relationship with the firm and is very confident in its security. .

"We clearly recognise that increased globalisation of the telecoms industry means there is a diverse range of cyber threats to consider when building and securing networks. BT takes a risk management approach on the use of components from Huawei and, like the UK government, we see no need to change our position following the US report. We work closely with Huawei on commercial security best practice and our relationship with Huawei is managed strictly in accordance with UK laws," said a spokesperson.

"BT's network is underpinned by robust security controls and built-in resilience. We always work closely with each of our suppliers - and government where appropriate - to gain assurance through rigorous review that the security of the network is not compromised."

Huawei has already been blacklisted in America and there have been hints that it is no longer welcome in Canadian networks. However, it has a much more comfortable position in the UK.

EE has already told us that it will stand by the firm. "We have a rigorous security process in place that ensures all our partners and work undertaken by them meets our required standards," said a spokesperson.

"Huawei, a globally trusted and respected company, underwent a stringent security check and agreed to a specific set of security requirements before being selected to work with EE in May 2011 on the installation and upgrade of our '4G ready' 2G network infrastructure."

Vodafone too is confident, saying that it applies rigorous controls to what it does and who it works with.

"We work closely with all our suppliers - including Huawei and ZTE - to achieve the highest possible levels of security assurance," it said. "This includes continuous rigorous testing of all of our suppliers' network equipment."

In a statement, Huawei said that it is no stranger to inspection and is already "regularly" in contact with the government. It does not seem to be concerned about its prospects.

"We have been subject to UK government scrutiny and procedure since we opened our first office here in 2001. We have regular contact with the UK government and welcome all discussions and questions," it said in a statement. µ


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