CHINESE TECH GIANTS Huawei and ZTE can't catch a break, having this week been banned from providing equipment to Australia's 5G mobile network.
The Australian government announced the ban on Thursday morning, just a day ahead of the country's 5G auction, citing - unsurprisingly - concerns over national security.
"The Government considers that the involvement of vendors who are likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government that conflict with Australian law, may risk failure by the carrier to adequately protect a 5G network from unauthorised access or interference," Mitch Fifield, Australia's Minister for Communications and Treasurer Scott Morrison said in a joint statement.
"Carriers may still need to apply controls regardless of the vendor they choose. These controls would not displace existing cybersecurity practices or business risk mitigations", the statement added.
In its updated guidelines, the Aussie gov also points out that differences in the way 5G operates compared to previous network generations introduce new risks to national security.
"This new architecture provides a way to circumvent traditional security controls by exploiting equipment in the edge of the network - exploitation which may affect overall network integrity and availability, as well as the confidentiality of customer data. A long history of cyber incidents shows cyber actors target Australia and Australians," it said.
"Government has found no combination of technical security controls that sufficiently mitigate the risks."
While the announcement fails to mention Huawei or ZTE by name, the former - which has long been barred from supplying network hardware for Australia's National Broadband Network - confirmed the "extremely disappointing" ban on Twitter (below).
We have been informed by the Govt that Huawei & ZTE have been banned from providing 5G technology to Australia. This is a extremely disappointing result for consumers. Huawei is a world leader in 5G. Has safely & securely delivered wireless technology in Aust for close to 15 yrs— Huawei Australia (@HuaweiOZ) August 22, 2018
Vodafone Australia is also pretty miffed at the government's decision, saying in a statement that while it agrees national security "is paramount," the sudden decision is of concern.
"This decision, which has been dropped on the eve of the 5G auction, creates uncertainty for carriers' investment plans," the statement added.
"This decision is a significant change which fundamentally undermines Australia's 5G future, and we will consider what it means for our business."
The Australian gov's decision comes just weeks after reality TV star Donald Trump signed the Defense Authorization Act into law, which introduces bans government agencies from using devices and equipment made by Chinese manufacturers including Huawei and ZTE.
The British government has also been growing wary of equipment from Chinese companies, too. Earlier this year, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) warned UK telecoms firms against using equipment from ZTE.
Ian Levy, technical director at the NCSC, wrote to UK telcos, ZTE and Ofcom warning that "the use of ZTE equipment or services within existing telecommunications infrastructure would present risk to UK national security that could not be mitigated effectively or practicably." µ
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