Huawei condemns NSA snooping allegations

Chinese infrastructure vendor Huawei has responded to the US National Security Agency (NSA) following reports over the weekend claiming that the organisation gained access to Huawei’s email servers and source code of Huawei products.

According to Germany’s Der Spiegel newspaper and the New York Times, which both cited documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the NSA initiated an operation codenamed Shotgiant in January 2009 to investigate supposed links between the vendor and China’s People’s Liberation Army, the nation’s military.

The operation also looked to exploit the software source code of Huawei products so that when the vendor sold networking equipment the NSA could access the data transmitted through it, the documents claim. The reports suggest that the NSA gained access to Huawei employees’ emails, including the accounts of CEO Ren Zhengfei and chairwoman Sun Yafang.

“If the actions in the report are true, Huawei condemns such activities that invaded and infiltrated into our internal corporate network and monitored our communications,” Huawei said in a statement.

However, the vendor stopped short of threatening to cut ties with the US and instead reiterated its desire to work with governments to address transparency concerns.

“Corporate networks are under constant probe and attack from different sources – such is the status quo in today’s digital age. We reiterate that Huawei disagrees with all activities that threaten the security of networks and is willing to work with all governments, industry stakeholders and customers, in an open and transparent manner, to jointly address the global challenge of network security.”

In October 2012, the US House Intelligence Committee warned US operators not to trust ZTE and Huawei, saying that the US “should view with suspicion the continued penetration of the US telecommunications market by Chinese telecommunications companies”.

However, on a visit to New Zealand in May 2013, Huawei CEO Ren maintained that none of Huawei’s staff would engage in spying, even if asked to by Chinese security agencies. He added that the vendor is not in a position to collect operators’ network data in the US in any case.

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