CHINESE COMPANY HUAWEI can sleep sound in the knowledge that its kit is considered unthreatening enough to be sold and used in the UK.
The firm is led by an ex-Chinese army man. In the US, where China is a cyber boogeyman, the firm would probably have bargepole status. China is regularly fingered as a source of cyberthreats.
In the UK, Huawei has come in for some delayed scrutiny. Two years ago, when its gear was already in use and deeply entrenched in the UK, someone decided that perhaps it would be a good idea to check the firm out and make sure that it's a suitable partner.
This has now been done and, thanks to a report from the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) we can all relax safe in the knowledge that a pool of experts has finally decided that Huawei is Hua-well and good. This is perhaps long overdue.
Huawei established the HCSEC in 2010. Housed near Oxford it was supposed to be a meeting place for the firm and the government, and a space in which its technology could be assessed.
This is fine in theory, but eventually the large ear of the UK, GCHQ, realised that it was not getting quite the level of access it wanted and an investigation began in 2013.
"The oversight board concludes that the HCSEC fulfilled its obligations in respect of the provision of assurance that any risks to UK national security from Huawei's involvement in the UK's critical networks have been sufficiently mitigated," it said.
The oversight board will continue to meet, as many as three times a year, led by Ciaran Martin, director general for government and industry cyber security at GCHQ.
GCHQ will take the lead on the work of the HCSEC, and the oversight board will be advised of things like personnel changes by the intelligence agency. GCHQ will also be commissioned to audit the technical "competence" of HCSEC staffers and internal procedures.
Huawei appears happy with the result. "In the globalised, interconnected digital age, we must all work together to deliver the best solutions to the challenges we face," said the firm.
HCSEC's managing director is Andy Hopkins, who worked at GCHQ for four decades before taking on the role at the Chinese firm. He retires soon and a ex-Microsofter has been lined up to replace him. µ
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