Nokia CTO hung out to dry after BBC comments

Although they weren’t exactly the most sensible of comments, it seems expressing a personal opinion is an absolute no-no for any telco executives nowadays.

The interview in question was with Nokia CTO Marcus Weldon and focused on a report from US security firm Finite State. In the report, Finite State suggested 55% of the firmware images supporting 558 of Huawei’s enterprise networking products contained at least one potential backdoor.

The report itself gave a relatively scathing interpretation of Huawei’s security capabilities, effectively questioning the competence of the Chinese vendor.

Weldon’s comments could be interpreted as sloppy or a man on the offensive to capitalise on a wounded foe.

“Some of it seems to be just sloppiness, honestly, that they haven’t patched things, they haven’t upgraded,” said Weldon. “But some of it is real obfuscation, where they make it look like they have the secure version when they don’t.”

To date, Nokia and Ericsson have largely avoided being dragged into the Huawei saga. They have commented on the uncertainty created and the need to come to a conclusion sooner rather than later but have steered clear of any comments directed at their biggest competitor.

Weldon hasn’t here, and it seems the Finnish vendor saw it necessarily to disown its CTO and his thoughts on the industry.

“Nokia notes the comments made by a Nokia executive to the BBC on 27 June 2019 regarding the possible impact of the use of a competitor’s products on the security of UK telecom networks,” a statement reads.

“These comments do not reflect the official position of Nokia. Nokia is focused on the integrity of its own products and services and does not have its own assessment of any potential vulnerabilities associated with its competitors.”

Nokia has managed to avoid getting its hands dirty in this on-going saga and why would it want to. The US is doing a perfectly job of demonising Huawei through various propaganda campaigns without help from anyone else.

That said, we imagine this is little comfort for Weldon who must be feeling quite lonely at the moment.

UPDATE: 28.06.19: 16:15 – Huawei statement:

Nokia’s statement that one executive’s comments on Huawei do not reflect their official position is recognition that ill-informed loose talk does not help our customers or the industry more widely. We win new business by fair competition and on the basis of our technology and customer focus, not by denigrating our competitors. Huawei is the world leader in 5G because our technology is the most advanced, as our market position confirms, we’ve already won 50 5G contracts globally, well ahead of the competition. The best way to improve cyber security and ensure network resilience is for all vendors to agree to independent testing of their equipment and source code – just as we have done in the UK

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