By Chris Williams
12th June 2009
Exclusive - Chinese networking giant Huawei is battling suggestions it
could be in collusion with the Beijing government and could cause
massive disruption to UK communications in a future cyber conflict.
Concerns have been raised at Cabinet level by senior intelligence
officials over the presence of the firm's equipment at the centre of
BT's 21CN network backbone upgrade. They particularly fear an
undetectable "kill switch" that could disable critical communications if
relations with China seriously deteriorate.
Similar cybersecurity disquiet has recently frustrated Huawei's progress
in India, a massive and growing market for networking equipment. Reports
also emerged last year that the Australian intelligence establishment
was investigating the firm's involvement in national broadband upgrade
Official fears over Huawei's equipment are typically founded on the
firm's origins. Cybersecurity hawks point to its unusual private
ownership structure and opaque accounting as evidence of its alleged
government ties. The firm was founded in 1988 by Ren Zhengfei, a former
People's Liberation Army technology research chief.
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