Chinese telecom firms Huawei and ZTE are a threat to American security. That’s the conclusion of a report completed by the Intelligence Committee of the U.S. Congress after a year of research.
According to the commission, it is impossible to ensure that the two groups are independent of the Chinese government and therefore can be used to undermine U.S. security. “On the basis of classified and unclassified information, Huawei and ZTE can not guarantee their independence from the influence of a foreign state, so it poses a threat to U.S. security,” says the report.
The commission believes that the Chinese government could use these two groups for the rapid growth of economic and military espionage, or cyber attacks. Huawei has answered that 70% of its business is in China. The company works in 150 countries and in none of those it has had any problems. Of course, the United States is not any country and the behind the stage war between these two foes has not stopped.
According to U.S. research commission, the two groups did not provide satisfactory answers to parliamentary questions on their relations with the Chinese government. “China has the means, the opportunity and the motivation to use telecommunications companies for malicious purposes,” according to the report to be released Monday.
In conclusion, the commission said that the U.S. “should block acquisitions and mergers involving Huawei and ZTE because they would pose a threat to the national security interests of the United States. “U.S. government systems of communication,” the commission concludes , “especially in sensitive areas should not include equipment or components from Huawei and ZTE.”
But the Backdoor is left Open
Whether the commission’s concern is legitimate or not, the truth is that the report comes too late and too short about the way the Chinese have been able to infiltrate the U.S. Huawei and ZTE are not the only two companies manufacturing equipment for the U.S. government and its military. According to current and former intelligence sources in the United States, the Chinese have now have the capacity to access much of the equipment produced in China and that is being used on American territory.
The Chinese do so by utilizing previously installed components that allow them to remotely access the equipment from abroad. This revelation was first presented by Lignet, an intelligence company that detailed how communications equipment can potentially be disabled by the Chinese. The devices installed in the machines are popularly knows as backdoors because they provide hidden access to anyone who knows how to use them.
Mundane technologies fabricated in China and other Asian countries have already been demonstrated to have secret access points which can be used by technology companies, at the request of government agencies to spy on users. The same situation occurs with military grade equipment, for example, which is manufactured abroad for the United States government. Both hardware and software can be set up to enable outsiders to get into communication and weapons systems just as government agencies use the cameras built in computers and cellphones or GPS technology to monitor people’s every move.
Backdoors installed in communication devices for consumers or government use can be exploited for spying purposes to gain control of information, movement and habits, for example. Both Huawei and ZTE have been informally accused of installing microchips and stealth circuitry to enable remote control of devices manufactured in their factories. Huawei is a Chinese corporation that occupies its resources to offer networking and communication equipment and services. This company is only second to technology giant Ericsson as a provider of mobile telecommunications equipment and software.
But Huawei’s reach goes beyond American territory. It is a key provider of equipment and services that have to do with almost everything to other developed nations. It is similar to what USAID represents for the United States. The organization is an American funded front to infiltrate other countries under the auspices of humanitarian aid. Suspicion about USAID’s activities in several countries had gotten it kicked out of several countries. The most recent one is Russia.
Well known technology companies such as Symantec held partnerships with Huawei in the past, but the security software enterprise apparently ended that relationship due to the security concerns posed by the U.S. government. Another notable client of the Chinese company is the government of Iran, which has prompted some people to think that the Iranians themselves could use the backdoors to infiltrate American infrastructure. So far, however, it’s been the Americans and Israelis who have attacked Iran in several occasions with computer bugs known as Trapwire, Stuxnet and others.
Given this scenario, it sounds logical to hear the American government talking about strengthening internet security for the sake of protecting its infrastructure. The part that is not so logical is that the U.S. government allows the same technology companies to continue manufacturing sensible portions of that infrastructure, which is what opens the door to internet insecurity. Another issue is that the Americans also intend to clamp down on internet freedom by using cyber threats as a justification to ban certain portions of the world wide web.
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Contributed by Luis Miranda of The Real Agenda.
Luis R. Miranda is the Founder and Editor of The Real Agenda. His 16 years of experience in Journalism include television, radio, print and Internet news. Luis obtained his Journalism degree from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica, where he graduated in Mass Media Communication in 1998. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcasting from Montclair State University in New Jersey. Among his most distinguished interviews are: Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres and James Hansen from NASA Space Goddard Institute.