Huawei struggles to change image as media suggest Whitehall has shunned its conferencing equipment

The Chinese firm wants to change perceptions by being more open and transparent

Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant that some believe to be spying on behalf of the Chinese government, has reacted angrily after reports suggested that a number of UK government departments removed the firm's video conferencing equipment amid fears that it could be bugged.

According to anonymous sources cited by The Sunday Mirror, three Whitehall departments removed the firm's technology after concerns were raised that the video conferencing devices supplied by Huawei may contain security vulnerabilities that could potentially be exploited.

The tabloid newspaper suggested a briefing note was sent to all ministerial departments urging them to stop using Huawei's video-conferencing equipment.

The departments rumoured to have ditched Huawei's equipment include The Home Office, Ministry of Justice and Crown Prosecution Service.

Huawei said in a statement: "Our video conferencing equipment complies with global standards, to suggest it is specifically open to abuse would be misleading.

"Huawei is a private, employee owned company, we share the same goal as our customers to raise the standards of cyber security, to ensure network technology benefits consumers."

The Cabinet Office was unable to confirm that three government departments have indeed removed Huawei's equipment but it did say: "We take the security and integrity of all equipment used by both Government and the public seriously. We have robust procedures in place to ensure confidence in the security of our networks."

Huawei claims that The Sunday Mirror's original article contained several inaccuracies and at the time of writing the article had been taken offline. A Huawei spokesperson told Techworld: "To the best of our knowledge, only one government department has used Huawei's equipment. I can't say who that is but it does mean there are glaring inaccuracies in what Mirror has written, which is obviously something we're taking up with them directly."

The news comes just weeks after the government ordered GCHQ to monitor Huawei's new Cyber Security Evaluation Centre in Banbury, Oxfordshire, which is responsible for analysing the company's equipment and ensuring there are no security risks.

Huawei is working hard to change its brand image by being a more open and transparent business after the US decided against using Huawei's equipment to build their telecoms networks, with Michael Hayden, the former head of the US Central Intelligence Agency, claiming that Huawei shared "intimate" knowledge of foreign telecommunications systems with the Chinese state.

In contrast, Huawei has been supplying network equipment for Britain's national telecoms infrastructure since it was awarded a contract by BT in 2005.

Meanwhile, the company is investing £1.3 billion pound in the UK between now and 2017, with George Osborne announcing a new $200 million Ipswich R&D centre last October to compliment the firm's existing Reading HQ and several other UK facilities.

The news also comes after Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) in the US, disclosed classified NSA documents to several media outlets revealing operational details of the PRISM surveillance programme.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Huawei TechnologiesNetworkingsecurity

More about BT AustralasiaGCHQHuaweiindeedNational Security AgencyNSA

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Sam Shead

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts