In a recent expose, British telecom giant Vodafone reportedly discovered security flaws in the devices of Chinese cell phone producer Huawei.
According to reports, the U.K. wireless carrier found vulnerabilities in telecommunications equipment in Italy that was provided by Huawei Technologies. This occured on at least two separate occasions in 2011 and again in 2012. “The issues were identified by independent security testing, initiated by Vodafone as part of our routine security measures,” the U.K. company reported. The flaws allegedly included backdoors that could have allowed Huawei to pull data from users’ devices remotely. Vodafone says that there is no evidence Huawei ever took advantage of this vulnerability.
Both Huawei and Vodafone claimed that the issues were resolved at the time. “Software vulnerabilities are an industry-wide challenge. Like every ICT [information and communications technology] 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,” Huawei outlined in an emailed statement.
The revelation is only the latest installment in a long saga of crackdowns targeting the Chinese manufacturer. Scrutiny of Huawei by the U.S. government, while going back several years, began to build traction in the beginning of 2018. Several actions by the current administration against Huawei included the company’s indictment over massive intellectual property theft.
The report of security deficiencies in Huawei equipment comes at a delicate time, as Europe seeks to balance security concerns with the rollout of the much anticipated 5G network. Much of the infrastructure for the network is being developed by Chinese firms. The U.K. government last week said it will grant the Chinese company limited access in the implementation of Britain’s 5G networks, but other countries have excluded Huawei gear from their 5G networks on concerns of security risks.