Vodafone found security flaws in Huawei hardware
Vodafone, the world’s second-largest mobile operator, discovered hidden security flaws in Huawei equipment 10 years ago, it is claimed.
The allegations come amid ongoing concerns over the Chinese company being allowed to develop 5G networks in the UK and elsewhere.
UK-based Vodafone said it found vulnerabilities in technology supplied to its Italian network, which had since been resolved, Bloomberg reported.
The revelation may further damage the reputation of a major symbol of China’s global technology prowess.
It said the security flaws, which were noticed in 2009, could have given Huawei unauthorised access to Italian homes and employers.
Anonymous sources said the vulnerabilities remained and could be found in Vodafone’s UK, German, Spanish and Portuguese networks.
Vodafone reportedly persisted with Huawei’s equipment because it was relatively cheap.
Vodafone disputed the allegations, saying the “hidden backdoors” were a protocol used to perform diagnostic functions and would not have been accessible from the internet.
“We have no evidence of any unauthorised access,” Vodafone said. “This was nothing more than a failure to remove a diagnostic function after development.”
Huawei, the world’s biggest telecommunications equipment maker, has been under scrutiny for its role in developing 5G networks around the world, potentially transforming industries like the internet of things and self-driving vehicles.
The US is calling on its allies to block Huawei from providing 5G equipment, arguing that the Chinese giant could enable Chinese spying. Huawei denies claims that it would support espionage or provide data to the Beijing authorities.
Analysts point to Chinese laws that purportedly mean every domestic firm is legally mandated to assist the authorities in intelligence gathering at Beijing’s requests.
Last week, the UK’s National Security Council was reported to have agreed to let Huawei provide some equipment for 5G networks. But a UK government report in March said Huawei’s equipment raised “significant” security risks.
Vodafone uses Huawei’s hardware in its existing mobile networks. Vodafone CEO Nick Read warned last month that a ban on Huawei’s equipment could set Europe’s 5G development back by two years.
“Software vulnerabilities are an industry-wide challenge,” Huawei said in response to the allegations. “Like every ICT vendor, we have a well-established public notification and patching process, and when a vulnerability is identified, we work closely with our partners to take the appropriate corrective action.”
Picture credit: Flickr