11:27 AM

Huawei Proposes Independent Cybersecurity Testing Labs

Independent bodies would be funded by vendors, customers and government agencies, and validate products' performance, security and overall trustworthiness.

Plumber responded to questions about that report by citing an Economist article that said the House study "appears to have been written for vegetarians," since there was no meat to the allegations. "Here in the U.S. we've experienced some unfortunate discrimination based on the heritage of our company," he said. Furthermore, he noted that 70% of Huawei's business happens outside China, and the company buys one-third of its components -- spending about $7 billion annually -- from U.S. businesses. Huawei's CEO, furthermore, broke his usual prohibition on media interviews in May 2013 to publicly deny that his employees were forced to spy for China or that his company was somehow involved with China's intelligence agencies.

In July, Michael Hayden, former head of the NSA and CIA, raised the issue again, by saying that based on his intelligence experience, he believed that Huawei would have at least shared "intimate and extensive knowledge of the foreign telecommunications systems it is involved with" with the Chinese government. In a worst case, some commentators worried that Huawei might have built backdoors into its products at the behest of the Chinese government, although many hacking experts have long argued that there are so many bugs in today's software applications and hardware firmware that any would-be attackers -- nation state or otherwise -- need not bother building backdoors.

Needless to say, a lot has happened in the world since then. Leaked details of National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs -- the breadth, extent and depth of which have surprised even the world's most respected information security experts -- have called into question the extent to which U.S. technology hardware, software and service vendors -- or the cryptographic standards on which their products rely -- can be trusted to be free from NSA influence or tampering.

Faced with this trust deficit -- and evidence that the NSA analyzes their every communication -- some governments and national telecommunications providers have reacted with plans that just six months ago would have seemed laughable. Brazil, for starters, has proposed laying its own fiber cable to Latin America. Germany's Deutsche Telekom, meanwhile, launched an "Email Made In Germany" program in August that promises "to automatically encrypt data over all transmission paths and offers peace of mind that data are handled in compliance with German data privacy laws."

Given that information security and trust landscape, is the time right for businesses, at least, to begin funding independent testing and certification labs, backed by policymakers holding technology vendors accountable for the quality of their code?

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User Rank: Apprentice
10/21/2013 | 2:59:29 PM
re: Huawei Proposes Independent Cybersecurity Testing Labs
Interesting that Huawei's security chief is a former DHS official and CSC exec.
User Rank: Apprentice
10/19/2013 | 7:31:55 PM
re: Huawei Proposes Independent Cybersecurity Testing Labs
While the devil is in the details, as usual, it looks like Huawei is now making a serious effort to allay foreign suspicions, as it should. The problem it faces is that since China is a Communist dictatorship and has traditionally insisted on subordinating *all* institutions, to include commercial corporations, to the Communist Party; it is subject to *whatever* orders the Party may be pleased to impose, and outsiders probably wouldn't hear about them. That's not the fault of Huawei's management, but is an important consideration nevertheless.

A truly independent lab with access to all the specs might well be sufficient.
Drew Conry-Murray
Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
10/18/2013 | 9:17:30 PM
re: Huawei Proposes Independent Cybersecurity Testing Labs
Huawei's got to be reveling in schaudenfrede as the NSA revelations keep mounting up.
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