Huawei gear is secure, say U.S. network service providers

Responding to a congressional report warning U.S. businesses not to buy equipment from Huawei Technologies or ZTE, three U.S.-based telecommunications companies that use Huawei products said they take strong precautions to safeguard their networks.

The report, by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said the possibility that the two Chinese companies have ties to the Chinese government raises the prospect that China is using their gear to conduct electronic espionage.

After the report was issued, three Huawei customers -- Clearwire, Cricket Communications and Level 3 Communications -- defended their choices.

Clearwire, an Internet service provider, said it buys some of the radios for the edge of its WiMax network from Huawei. Edge radios aren't directly connected to the core systems that manage and process traffic on the network, Clearwire said. But the carrier takes security precautions in any case.

"Among other things, we require our infrastructure vendors to submit their equipment and software to extensive testing by a leading third party recognized for vetting critical infrastructure systems," Clearwire said.

Cricket Communications, a low-cost cellular carrier, acknowledged that Huawei is one of its vendors. However, it said that the majority of its network is not built with Huawei equipment and that it has systems in place to monitor its network and identify intrusions.

Level 3, a global wired backbone provider, declined to comment on Huawei in particular but said it has an extensive security system.

The Chinese government slammed the congressional report. Commerce Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said in a statement that the report "was based on subjective suspicions and inaccuracies" and made "groundless accusations against China."

Michael Kan of the IDG News Service contributed to this story.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on

Read more about security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.

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