Huawei and conspiracy theories

Innula Zenovka

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Interesting comment here from GCHQ:

The US has led allegations that Huawei’s equipment can be used by Beijing for espionage operations, with Washington urging allies to bar the companyfrom 5G networks.

British officials have also raised concerns about security issues but said they can manage the risks and have seen no evidence of spying. Huawei has repeatedly denied the allegations against it.

“Huawei as a company builds stuff very differently to their Western counterparts. Part of that is because of how quickly they’ve grown up, part of it could be cultural – who knows,” said Ian Levy, Technical Director of Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre, part of the GCHQ signals intelligence agency.

“What we have learnt as a result of that, the security is objectively worse, and we need to cope with that,” he told a conference in London.

Asked about how Huawei compares with its competitors, Levy said: “Certainly nothing is perfect, certainly Huawei is shoddy, the others are less shoddy.”

To put this in context, though, Huawei is not the only cause for concern for senior British security figures. I read this in the Washington Post the other day:

Former British officials believe that MI6 has begun to worry about sharing its most sensitive secrets with the United States, for fear that they may be disclosed by the Trump White House for political reasons, or through simple carelessness. This British concern about the U.S. ability to keep secrets predates Trump, but it has increased.

“You never know what Trump will say or do or tell in a rage, and that’s something to worry about,” says a former British official. “The U.S. has become a less reliable ally.”
So, this leaves me wondering which is the worse risk -- using Huawei to supply some components for our 5-G phone network or sharing sensitive information with the USA while Individual 1 is still in office for fear he will blurt it out or, come to that, reveal it intentionally for whatever reason seems good to him at the time?
 
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Sid

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So, this leaves me wondering which is the worse risk -- using Huawei to supply some components for our 5-G phone network or sharing sensitive information with the USA while Individual 1 is still in office for fear he will blurt it out or, come to that, reveal it intentionally for whatever reason seems good to him at the time?
The other USA administrations under other presidents weren't choirboys either.
Nations spy on each other. That is about all there is to it.
The Martini cocktail stirred not shaken please.
 
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Bartholomew Gallacher

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The comment from GHCQ is bullshit.

First and foremost 5G does not offer really secure end-to-end-encryption in its standard at all due to intervenance of intelligence agencies/laws of many countries.

Second: when looking at the security track record, Huawei is not better or worse than Western companies. Also double standards are here applied again.

Cisco is the global leader for routers, and an American company. And guess which company has in its routers so many security holes and backdoors that it's not even funny any longer? Cisco. The number of heavy security holes and undocumented accounts with admin privileges in 2019 alone is far away from funny.

But where's the outcry on Cisco? Nowhere.
 

Innula Zenovka

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The comment from GHCQ is bullshit.

First and foremost 5G does not offer really secure end-to-end-encryption in its standard at all due to intervenance of intelligence agencies/laws of many countries.

Second: when looking at the security track record, Huawei is not better or worse than Western companies. Also double standards are here applied again.

Cisco is the global leader for routers, and an American company. And guess which company has in its routers so many security holes and backdoors that it's not even funny any longer? Cisco. The number of heavy security holes and undocumented accounts with admin privileges in 2019 alone is far away from funny.

But where's the outcry on Cisco? Nowhere.
From what I've read, I think GCHQ's concern over the equipment supplied by Huawei isn't that it contains a "security hole" so much as it's thought not to be as robust against known attack vectors as is equivalent equipment from some other suppliers.

However, at least as I understand it, GCHQ's position is that, since we're aware of the particular shortcomings associated with the equipment and work round them, that doesn't matter a great deal, at least not for the use cases for which the equipment is intended in building the UK's new 5G network.

Do you disagree with either that assessment of GCHQ's view on the matter or of that assessment of the equipment?
 
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detrius

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The other USA administrations under other presidents weren't choirboys either.
Nations spy on each other. That is about all there is to it.
The Martini cocktail stirred not shaken please.
America's various intelligence agencies cost about $81,5 billion this year.

For comparison: the budget of Germany's BND in 2019 is just €966 million. Germany has a few other intelligence agencies, but they're nowhere near as numerous or as well-funded as in America.

The "everyone does it" argument just doesn't fly when the United States spends way more money on spying than other countries.

There's also a difference between spying on governments, the industry and the general population - the first two are to be expected, but the last one is a big no-go. And while the BND doesn't give a fuck about the average Bubba McShootface in America, the USA is gratuitously collecting all kinds of information about random EU citizens like you and me without any regard for our rights.
 
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Ellie

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Interesting comment here from GCHQ:




To put this in context, though, Huawei is not the only cause for concern for senior British security figures. I read this in the Washington Post the other day:



So, this leaves me wondering which is the worse risk -- using Huawei to supply some components for our 5-G phone network or sharing sensitive information with the USA while Individual 1 is still in office for fear he will blurt it out or, come to that, reveal it intentionally for whatever reason seems good to him at the time?
The latter. Many nations must have already looked at who currently resides in the White House and adjusted any security briefings he or his cronies may be privy to in accordance with that.
 

Bartholomew Gallacher

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From what I've read, I think GCHQ's concern over the equipment supplied by Huawei isn't that it contains a "security hole" so much as it's thought not to be as robust against known attack vectors as is equivalent equipment from some other suppliers.

However, at least as I understand it, GCHQ's position is that, since we're aware of the particular shortcomings associated with the equipment and work round them, that doesn't matter a great deal, at least not for the use cases for which the equipment is intended in building the UK's new 5G network.

Do you disagree with either that assessment of GCHQ's view on the matter or of that assessment of the equipment?
Yes, I disagree for one simple reason: moblle phones are not around since a very long time; they started taking off end of the 90s. Companies, it doesn't matter American, Chinese, Japanese whatever, first want to get a slice of the cake - and then maybe start thinking about security. Most just don''t anyway. So this is absolutely no Chinese specific trait, but how companies work.

On top of it of course I distrust in that context anything coming from intelligence agencies alone, especially involved in five eyes, as long as there's no confirmation by independent security experts as well.

For me all equipment in that area is equally shitty.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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Yes, I disagree for one simple reason: moblle phones are not around since a very long time; they started taking off end of the 90s. Companies, it doesn't matter American, Chinese, Japanese whatever, first want to get a slice of the cake - and then maybe start thinking about security. Most just don''t anyway. So this is absolutely no Chinese specific trait, but how companies work.

On top of it of course I distrust in that context anything coming from intelligence agencies alone, especially involved in five eyes, as long as there's no confirmation by independent security experts as well.

For me all equipment in that area is equally shitty.
I'm confused. The US are complaining that the UK is planning to buy some of the hardware (primarily aerials, I think, but I'm not sure) for the new 5G network that's being constructed in the UK. The US say it constitutes too great a security risk and, if the UK goes ahead, the US will have to reconsider the amount of classified information it shares with the UK. Presumably the US would greatly prefer it if the UK bought US-manufactured kit, for a variety of reasons.

The UK's position is that they have considered the security and reliability of the components they intend to buy from Huawei and, while they agree the equipment has some shortcomings, they are easily remedied and, since we're aware of them, they don't constitute a sufficiently large risk to outweigh their various advantages.

Which side is correct? You seem to reject the US position (don't buy from Huawei) but you also seem to disagree with the UK position (whatever objections there may be to some of Huawei's equipment, the specific components the UK is buying are acceptable).

As I understand it, the main concern -- at least on the UK side -- is not that the Chinese intelligence services will be able to monitor transmissions but that a hostile actor -- state or non-state -- might be able to exploit weaknesses in the system to disrupt the network as a whole. The UK's assessment, though, is that since we're aware of the weaknesses, we can build in appropriate safeguards against this happening.

So do you say the UK should or shouldn't be using the equipment it intends to buy from Huawei?
 

Bartholomew Gallacher

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I'm confused. The US are complaining that the UK is planning to buy some of the hardware (primarily aerials, I think, but I'm not sure) for the new 5G network that's being constructed in the UK. The US say it constitutes too great a security risk and, if the UK goes ahead, the US will have to reconsider the amount of classified information it shares with the UK. Presumably the US would greatly prefer it if the UK bought US-manufactured kit, for a variety of reasons.
Well the US is clearly trying to open up the market with a crow bar; it's a trade war, simple as that. The launch of 5G networks all around the globe is a one time multi billion dollar investment, where everybody wants to have its own fair share

The reason for it is simple: 5G cells do cover a much smaller area than 4G cells do, so you do need much more antennas and the equipment coming with it. Four companies have together 2/3 of the global market share: Huawei, ZTE, Nokia and Ericsson, with Huawei being the biggest and also cheapest supplier. The rest is something else. No American companies produces all parts needed for a 5G cell though, and more important parts which could be used to replace Huawei/ZTE.

The UK's position is that they have considered the security and reliability of the components they intend to buy from Huawei and, while they agree the equipment has some shortcomings, they are easily remedied and, since we're aware of them, they don't constitute a sufficiently large risk to outweigh their various advantages.

Which side is correct? You seem to reject the US position (don't buy from Huawei) but you also seem to disagree with the UK position (whatever objections there may be to some of Huawei's equipment, the specific components the UK is buying are acceptable).
I do reject only a part of the UK stance, which is that Huawei has worse security practices than the competition. Normally in such a mono culture all companies do suck equally. Huawei is also offering no spy agreements go governments, where they can review the whole source code of the equipment. Of course you need to decide on yourself whom to trust, and whom not.

So do you say the UK should or shouldn't be using the equipment it intends to buy from Huawei?
If they want to - yes, why not. If they do prefer a competitor: yes, why not.

The whole issue is not about surveillance or stuff, but we really got here the first global player out of China which in a big market has outran all Western competitors. What Trump wants is to keep this competition on the ground by all means necessary to pamper and support the own economy, which simple either didn't care or had no intention/will to develop similar products.

The real, underlying issue behind is that a 5G network is an important piece of infrastructure; so of course America does not want to be reliant on hardware which is being manufactured mostly in the country which America has choosen as new enemy and fear for paranoia, China. The issue is not so much surveillance, but being dependant on China and maybe getting no spare parts. Since the US economy had no answer on it, Trump is now making room for them to develop and deliver.

From a strategic and military perspective this move makes much sense; because Huawei delivering and building most parts of America's 5G infrastructure would be equivalent to China building and equipping the USS Gerald Ford. So the real intention behind Trump's ban is to get independent from Chinese technology, and as a second step to in a flash get the US companies to provide comparable products. The latter of course might fail because developing those it not so easy - unless of course Nokia or Ericsson gets bought by a big, American company. Then it's easy.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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If they want to - yes, why not. If they do prefer a competitor: yes, why not.
As I understand it, the UK's analysis is very similar to your own -- that is, they've conducted their own security audits of all the equipment in question and while they do have some criticisms of Huawei's items , they nevertheless consider they are quite acceptable for the use to which they will be put.

Also, reading between the lines, the British government also seem to share your view that the US's concerns are based on commercial considerations and the continuing trade war with China (whom the UK regard not with hostility but, rather, as a valuable and trustworthy trading partner, at least within certain limits) rather than on any genuine concerns about security.
 

Bartholomew Gallacher

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Also, reading between the lines, the British government also seem to share your view that the US's concerns are based on commercial considerations and the continuing trade war with China (whom the UK regard not with hostility but, rather, as a valuable and trustworthy trading partner, at least within certain limits) rather than on any genuine concerns about security.
Well China is the biggest economy world wide (or second, depends on your methodology) - so of course having good access to that market if crashing out of the EU would be a benefit for the UK.

But it comes with a price, of course: you are dealing with China here. China has an uncanny mastership in strategic long time investments and partnerships, which mostly benefit China, so in short typical superpower tendencies. Or in other words: China is able to skin you alive without you even noticing it until its too late, you might even thank them for the nice back rub before your die.

The difference between America and China is, that at the moment Trump tells you in the face what he thinks and what he wants; or he signs agrees with something only to tweet a few hours later that he disagrees with it now. He's the proverbial school yard bully everybody hates, but since he's the president of America, being backed up by the American economy and military, he's got almost unmatched power and importance only very few can stand up against in the long term. Of course, the UK can't and will not be able to do so.

China on the other hand is a firm hand in a velvety glove, where most of us only do see the glove. So when their president visits you, it get's quite boring because he has learned to behave, and normally China does not deliver openly direct threats; you've got to understand diplomacy and be able to read between the lines. They are more a fan of wielding soft power than obvious/hard power, which is the preferred American way. And many Chinese still do want revenge for what America did to China in the 19th century. They are thinking in time spans most Americans are unable to recognise or grasp.

This makes for the moment the PRC a more reliable partner compared to America under Trump's administration, because the PRC acts strategically and long term driven, while Trump is being driven to whichever thing gives him most attention like a moth to the light. And of course getting good access to the market makes them valuable as well.

But trustworthy? Hell on, the PRC is absolutely not trustworthy, nor is America; no superpower is or ever was. They are tricksters and in the end use their power for their own benefit, giving a damn about anything.

Or in other words: you've just got to look at Trump to recognise he's untrustworthy, while with China many only do realise that when too late. China's way of doing stuff is money talks, bullshit walks. And most countries are ok with the latter and do nothing against it, so the bullshit continues moving on...

But what we've all got to understand is the same can be told about the Chinese, due to our history with them: most don't trust the West; and why should they? We are absolutely untrustworthy by our own standards.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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I agree. That is why I added the qualification "at least within certain limits" to my observation that the UK regards China as a trusted trading partner.
 

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The first return shots were finally fired, as Huawei now wants to collect 1 Billion in patent fees from Verizon over various telecommunication patents by Huawei that Verizon supposedly uses: Huawei asks Verizon to pay over $1 billion for over 230 patents:...

But as expected, now the US (Senator Rubio specifically) simply wants to make it law so companies on the watchlist just don't have any patent rights in the U.S., because fuck you we can turn patent laws in any way we want: Senator Rubio targets Huawei over patents

...naturally he seems to be forgetting that it'd not matter, because of companies like Verizon being active and registered internationally - Huawei can simply file in whatever country Verizon has registered as its european seat, for example.
 

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It would also be certainly ... interresting to see what Rubio would say if China (or any other country) would to do something similiar. Like lets say, don't aknowledge Apple's patents in China.

I bet he would show deep understanding. NOT!!!
 

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Interesting. It seems Huawei was already working on an OS forked off of android.
 
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