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Article: Inside Huawei, the Chinese tech giant that’s rattling nerves in DC

Information Security
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
6:59 am

A Pegasus constructed entirely out of Huawei Ascend smartphones sat on the grounds of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, just one of the many ways the company made its presence felt.CNET reported today on a congressional committee wants to know whether Huawei, a telecommunications powerhouse is a national security threat.

Huawei is much larger than I realized:

Huawei is the second largest telecommunications equipment maker in the world, behind only Sweden’s Ericsson. It generated $32 billion in revenue last year, selling its networking technology to such global giants as Vodafone, Bell Canada and Telekom Malaysia, though only smaller U.S. carriers Leap and Clearwire use the company’s gear. Huawei’s heft has allowed it to pour resources into adjacent markets, such as mobile handset development and data center technology that’s already paying off with new customers and billions more in revenue. …

And Huawei is a patent machine, with about 50,000 patents filed worldwide. Though accused years ago of pilfering the innovations of Cisco and others, Huawei gets credit these days for breakthroughs in complex technologies such as radio access networking that lets mobile carriers support multiple communications standards on a single network. It also pioneered the dongles that consumers slip into laptops to wirelessly connect to the Web.

Because of their size, power and national origin, some are very worried:

The broader concern, though, is of a dangerous marriage of Huawei’s capability — it wants to build a massive swath of the telecommunications network, from routers and switches to the phones consumers use — with the Chinese government’s motive and intent. A report last year from the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive found that the Chinese are the “world’s most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage.” The committee wants to thwart the possibility Chinese cyberattacks in the United States over Huawei’s technology before the company, which has only a modest U.S. presence, grows into a powerhouse here. …

Hawks in the federal government remain unconvinced that his company is merely a financial success story. They worry that Huawei, whose technology provides infrastructure to communications networks, is a tool of the Chinese government, potentially enabling it to snoop on critical corporate and government data through digital backdoors that Huawei has the ability to install.

I don’t know the answers here, but this is certainly food for thought.

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