Huawei warns security issues will take up to five years to resolve

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Chinese technology giant Huawei has said security issues raised in a Government report could take between three and five years to resolve.

In a letter to Norman Lamb MP, chairman of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, the firm pledged to spend £1.5 billion over five years to address security issues flagged last year.

However, the Chinese company warned the process could take up to five years to see “tangible results”.

“Modern communications networks are complex systems that keep evolving in new and innovative ways. Enhancing our software engineering capabilities is like replacing components on a high-speed train in motion,” Huawei’s carrier business group president, Ryan Ding, said in the letter.

“It is a complicated and involved process and will take at least three to five years to see tangible results. We hope the UK Government can understand this.”

The letter was in response to concerns raised by the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) in its annual report, a body that includes Huawei, UK operators and UK Government officials.

It warned that “areas of concern” in Huawei’s security infrastructure meant it could give only “limited assurance” that Huawei’s involvement in UK telecommunications infrastructure did not pose a national security threat.

The company also denied previous claims it could be compelled to assist Chinese national intelligence work using information gathered from the UK.

“Huawei has never and will never use UK-based hardware, software or information gathered in the UK or anywhere else globally, to assist other countries in gathering intelligence. We would not do this in any country,” Mr Ding said.

“Were Huawei ever to engage in malicious behaviour, it would not go unnoticed – and it would certainly destroy our business. For us, it is a matter of security or nothing; there is no third option. We choose to ensure security.”

Mr Ding also defended the company’s reputation in the face of several UK allies restricting the use of Huawei equipment in crucial communications infrastructure.

He said that while some countries – including New Zealand, Australia and the US – had “indeed taken measures to restrict Huawei business activities”, some of the restrictions had been “exaggerated or even misinterpreted by the media”.

The company has suffered a number of setbacks in recent months because of apparent concerns over its security.  The Prince’s Trust recently announced it would no longer accept donations from the firm, and both Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and the head of MI6 Alex Younger have publicly expressed their concerns over the company.

Its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada in December at the request of the US.

US charges of stealing technology and violating sanctions on Iran have since been issued against the company, sparking new tensions in relations between the United States and China.

Tech Digest Correspondent
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