Thursday, 21 February 2019 06:10

UK think-tank member says UK should go with Five Eyes on Huawei Featured

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UK think-tank member says UK should go with Five Eyes on Huawei Pixabay

A senior associate fellow of the world's and the UK's oldest defence and security think-tank has said that, in his opinion the UK should ban Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei Technologies from participation in the country's 5G networks or risk being cut of intelligence-sharing by other Five Eyes countries.

In an occasional paper which was described as not being an academic research document, Charles Parton of the Royal United Services Institute, said given that the US, Australia and New Zealand had acted against Huawei, "worries about the security of UK networks following their exposure to Huawei may make the Five Eyes partners, and perhaps others such as France, Germany or Japan, less inclined to co-operate with the UK in the future".

His remarks come in the wake of a report in the Financial Times that the UK's National Cyber Security Centre had concluded that any risk posed by Huawei to British networks could be managed.

Parton wrote: "The maintenance of a ‘Five Eyes standard’ of cyber security in telecommunications is a vital strategic and security interest, the loss of which would go far beyond a reduction in intelligence reports exchanged and might lead the UK being excluded from work on developing future technologies for intelligence collection."

According to its website, the RUSI is funded by "membership subscriptions, the sale of its various outputs and from research contracts, donations, and from events funded by a wide range of sources, private and governmental, UK-based and international".

Among its members are leading multinational defence companies, defence-related organisations, and government organisations.

In the paper, titled China-UK relations: where to draw the border between influence and interference, Parton cited a 2013 report from the Intelligence and Security Committee, which he said was scathing about Huawei's participation in current telecommunications.

"Among other criticisms, it pointed out that GCHQ could not be confident in finding insertions embedded in software containing over a million lines of code (or more, given frequent software updates), which would enable covert downloading of information," Parton said.

Huawei has already said that it is addressing these issues and the president of its Carrier Business Group, Ryan Ding, wrote to Norman Lamb, the chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, recently saying it would take between three and five years to fix these security concerns.

Parton said the UK should keep Chinese companies out of those parts of its critical national infrastructure "which would potentially give them access to data which might compromise national security, and from areas to which foreign companies are excluded in China, in particular, the telecommunications and power grid sectors".

He added that the UK should "maintain the same stance as the UK’s Five Eyes intelligence allies, particularly over 5G".

iTWire has contacted Huawei for comment.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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