Huawei ban

A new report by Bloomberg claims that telecom giant Vodafone had found potential hidden backdoor vulnerabilities in Huawei equipment, but the claims have been refuted the carrier.

The Bloomberg report makes claims that Vodafone Italy confirmed that they had found vulnerabilities as far back as 2009 in Huawei telecoms and internet equipment.

In the report, the supposed backdoors were found in software running on equipment like home routers and other telecoms-specific networking hardware. These hidden backdoors in the Huawei equipment were said to allow unauthorized access to the carrier’s fixed-line network in Italy, potentially affecting millions of customers and businesses.

As Vodafone remains one of the biggest telecom companies in Europe, any allegations would no doubt prove to be damning to Huawei after a series of high-profile allegations have been levelled at the Shenzen-based company.

Vodafone has since issued a statement (via The BBC) that refutes the claims made by Bloomberg. In the statement, Vodafone said: “The issues in Italy identified in the Bloomberg story were all resolved and date back to 2011 and 2012.

“The ‘backdoor’ that Bloomberg refers to is Telnet, which is a protocol that is commonly used by many vendors in the industry for performing diagnostic functions. It would not have been accessible from the internet.

“Bloomberg is incorrect in saying that this ‘could have given Huawei unauthorised access to the carrier’s fixed-line network in Italy’.

“In addition, we have no evidence of any unauthorised access. This was nothing more than a failure to remove a diagnostic function after development.”

“The issues were identified by independent security testing, initiated by Vodafone as part of our routine security measures, and fixed at the time by Huawei.”

Of course, vulnerabilities are not always malicious in intent. These Bloomberg allegations are not exactly welcome with Huawei looking to help build out valuable 5G infrastructure across the globe. Without the help of the Chinese tech giants, for the rest of the world, it will prove difficult to do so without significant costs and severe delays.

Given the intense global scrutiny of Huawei, the inclusion of any hidden backdoors or exploits would likely be instantly detected. Given the close ties between Huawei and the Chinese government, it is right to be wary, but this simply points to software issues rather than malicious intent.

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Damien Wilde

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