As the guy at the helm of an IT hardware support company, it’s needless to say that my focus is on hardware of all kinds—whether we support it or not. Why? Because at the end of the day, if hardware of any kind can affect the networks we monitor, then we need to be fully aware of its potential impact.
And nothing seems to stand out more—at least when it comes to bad press—than the continuing saga that is Huawei. From a giant with goals to take over the world’s smartphone market, to being shunned by so many countries, the question remains: Is Huawei actually trying to hack the world’s communications?
The concern first started with security agencies around the world being suspicious (to say the least) of the telecom company’s connections to the Chinese government. Those connections could very well translate to so-called “backdoors” into all organizations using the company’s technology, feeding information to the nation’s governmental spy agencies.
Furthermore, the concern isn’t just smartphones—the company manufactures data center equipment including switches, routers, and servers that are used to connect the world. Hence, the concern.
So, where did all this start? Aside from many countries banning the use of the company’s technology, the catalyst came from an investigation by US prosecutors claiming that Huawei allegedly stole smartphone testing technology from T-Mobile. And, all things being what they are, the 2017 court case sided with T-Mobile. Almost immediately everyone from Australia to New Zealand, from Canada to the United States, and others, all backed away from Huawei.
And, to make things worse, Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s CFO (and daughter of the company’s founder) was arrested in Canada two months ago for potentially selling telecom equipment to Iran despite US sanctions. Then, to add fuel to the fire, the Polish government arrested a Huawei employee for spying.
All of this to say—and there is plenty—that there is still little to no actual proof of Huawei spying on anyone. And though there have been additional concerns ranging from the vetting of cybersecurity-based scenarios as they pertain to third-party software vendors, to Huawei’s own CEO for his allegiance to China’s Communist Party, nothing of merit has yet to turn up.
Therefore, the question becomes one of evidence and credibility. For many, there is always the “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then …” so they put their fears to rest by simply avoiding the company altogether. For others, they may very well use the technology until something nefarious is otherwise proven—a 50/50 chance and a roll of the dice.
For me, this isn’t the hardest of decisions. As a guy who makes his living helping companies plan for the worst-case scenario and working to always mitigate risk, I’m of the mindset that this is a situation not to be trusted. And though I don’t think Huawei originally intended to be a cyberthreat to world governments or countries, the company is a Chinese company and, thus, under control of the government.
Therefore, if mitigating risk is based on even a chance that there could be something nefarious going on, then I suggest to everyone that avoidance is the best path to security.