HUAWEI COULD BE BANNED around Westminster if the latest warnings from cyber-chiefs are heeded.
In an interview with the BBC's Panorama, to be shown on Monday evening, Dr Ian Levy of GCHQ warns that Huawei's equipment should be kept away from 'sensitive' parts of the UK, and could be barred from the 'brains' of the forthcoming 5G network.
The interview stops short of suggesting deliberate backdoors as claimed by the US government, but talks of 'shoddy' practices that have left vulnerabilities in networking equipment.
The programme will suggest that Huawei has failed to address a number of glitches that it has been aware of for months, and until these measures are implemented, it will be impossible to effectively risk-manage the overarching risk of using Huawei equipment.
Huawei, which recently reported record profits, has already promised a $2bn (1.5bn) programme of ‘transformation' to fix the problems, but whether that will be implemented by next month when GCHQ is expected to formally adjudicate on the future of Huawei's networking equipment in the UK.
Dr Levy says: "The security in Huawei is like nothing else - it's engineering like it's back in the year 2000 - it's very, very shoddy.
"We've seen nothing to give us any confidence that the transformation programme is going to do what they say it's going to do."
It's a rock and a hard place, however, as Mobile UK, which represents the phone networks - BT, O2, Three and Vodafone - has warned that blocking Huawei could delay the full rollout of 5G networks by up to two years at a cost to the UK economy of £6.8bn.
Part of the problem is that Huawei is already incumbent in many of the UK's existing networks. So far, only BT has taken the decision to strip out all of its existing equipment across EE and BT branded mobile products.
Huawei has consistently denied allegations that it is facilitating back doors in its equipment for use by the Chinese government, however, accusations that its workmanship is shonky are a little harder to rebuke.
Incidentally - if you're wondering why Huawei equipment is still in the running, we have two words for you. It's cheap. µ
Panorama: Can We Trust Huawei? is on BBC One tonight at 2030, and on BBC iPlayer after broadcast.
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