India investigates alleged Huawei 'hacking' of mobile base station

Yet another probe

Chinese equipment maker Huawei is reportedly being investigated by the Indian Government over alleged 'hacking' of equipment belonging to state-run telecoms firm Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL).

The concerns are believed to be connected to media reports of interference with a mobile base controller belonging to BSNL in the state of Andhra Pradesh by engineers working for Huawei.

"An incident about the alleged hacking of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) network by Huawei has come to [our] notice," junior minister for communications and information technology Killi Krupa Rani was quoted as saying by Reuters in a written reply to a parliamentary question.

"The government has constituted an inter-ministerial committee to investigate the matter," she added without elaborating on details.

What 'hacking' means in this context is open to interpretation but the equipment is believed to have been installed by Huawei's Chinese rival, ZTE, in 2012. The issue could be local to a piece of equipment or of wider significance.

India has a history of suspicion over the Chinese equipment vendors building the country's communications systems, and like their US and European counterparts, the Indian intelligence services are reported to monitor Huawei's behaviour.

"Huawei India denies such alleged hacking and continues to work closely with customers and governments in India to address any network security issue that may arise in technical and business operations," a company spokesperson was quoted by Reuters as saying.

In the UK, and despite a charm offensive, suspicions about the company remain. In January it was reported that Government departments had rejected Huawei conferencing equipment over bugging fears, the latest in a long line of slights directed at a firm whose technology nevertheless makes up the backbone of UK telecoms infrastructure.

On the other hand, as Huawei might privately point out, it's not as if the same surveillance isn't a risk at the hands of the NSA; documents released as part of the Snowden cache late in 2013 reportedly claimed that the US spy agency had found and exploited backdoors in the networking equipment of a number of large and trusted vendors, including Cisco and Juniper Networks.

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