back to article Clearwire to pull Huawei from network

US mobile carrier Clearwire is getting ready to draw-down the Huawei kit in its network, in an apparent response to the never-ending story that the vendor is a threat to US national security. While not a body blow to the Chinese vendor, since it's won less than five per cent of Clearwire's LTE build, it will drop yet more fuel …

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xenophobia

Sickening really.

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Not entirely that simple. It isn't that it has or hasn't got backdoors in it for the Chinese government (it probably does but it doesn't matter much) it's that either it doesn't have US gov't backdoors or the US gov't doesn't want to have to tell a Chinese company what backdoors it wants adding. Either that or it's a policy of making high tech trade with China more difficult whenever possible due to either Chinese companies liking to dump products in the US at insanely low prices or just because senators happen to have shares in Cisco. Take your pick :-) It could be something completely different as well but China is a huge lender and a significant bond owner. There is also reasonable evidence to suggest they do supress their currency value (although the US is doing a good job of diluting it's currencies value) and allow companies to sell goods at below cost due to loans \ grants \ subsidies (not entirely unlike corn in the US, but thats largely for domestic use).

fwiw I'm not looking to be confrontational, I'm just not convinced it's outright xenophobia (although I'm sure that exists in abundance) as the US is normally ok overlooking that if you have something shiny to sell for cheap.

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So what would a backdoor actually *do*?

If the Chinese govt could really install a back door, what would that do?

Packet sniffing/espionage would surely be useless since anyone sending sensitive information uses encryption (VPN, ssh,...).

About all they could do is instigate huge DDOS attacks or cause similar outage. Would they really do that?

The most logical way to look at this is congress/senators /whatever waving the Chinese threat flag for political advantage, and some businesses doing the same to be on-side with Japanese purchasers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So what would a backdoor actually *do*?

If the Chinese govt could really install a back door, what would that do?

Packet sniffing/espionage would surely be useless since anyone sending sensitive information uses encryption (VPN, ssh,...).

What would a backdoor do? How about allowing for a port to become a span port to snaff a copy of all traffic and shovel it out that port for later analysis? VPNs and such aren't all that well protected since a sufficient of horsepower can be used to crack that encryption. A perfect example of that is what was done to DES which forced the US Gov't to drop it as their main encryption method. granted over one half of that work was all done by one special built machine but that can also easily be done for other encryption protocols. To a state backed endeavor like that, money is no object.

About all they could do is instigate huge DDOS attacks or cause similar outage. Would they really do that?

Sure! Why wouldn't they do it if it were to prevent critical traffic from reaching its destination? What's the difference between that and a blockade of any other type? If you break comms then other things start to fall apart as well.

The most logical way to look at this is congress/senators /whatever waving the Chinese threat flag for political advantage, and some businesses doing the same to be on-side with Japanese purchasers.

Agreed. Greed is a possible reason but not one that "we" can get away from very easily :/

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One xenophobe

Or one Sinophobe actually. Rep. Frank Wolfe (R. - Va), Chair of the US House Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Committee, has a "thing" about China. He's convinced the Yellow Peril is lurking under every desk in the government, in every rack in every government server room, and is trying to steal every "secret" and non-secret technology we US'ns have. He's responsible for prohibiting one-to-one contacts or bilateral efforts between NASA and anyone in China, and recently wrote into our most recent budget legislation a ban on the Departments of Commerce and Justice, NASA, and the National Science Foundation purchasing any IT system unless the head of the named agency can certify that it's not a risk because it was "produced, manufactured or assembled by one or more entities that are owned, directed or subsidized by the People’s Republic of China." Cute, eh?

http://www.lawfareblog.com/2013/03/congress-v-china-on-cybersecurity/

And since NASA management is always on the side of using a bludgeon where a scalpel would do, in order to convince the good Congressman that they're serious, they have initiated a temporary ban on _all_ IT purchases until they can sort out how they go about assessing that the any associated risk of cyber-espionage or sabotage of such a "system" (whatever that's supposed to mean).

Given the well-punblicized ubiquity of advanced persistent threats everywhere, some of which are not doubt launched from China (as well as no bout from the US as well), something like this might be a bargaining chip. The irony is that many of the "value added resellers" that sell such kit to the US government are headquartered in Rep. Wolfe's district. Smart move.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: One xenophobe

Funny how most of this spying is due to exploits for MS & Adobe products, but USA companies (at least in name)?

Also worth considering is how much you could put in to networking that is going to be very effective and yet hard to detect the use thereof. All of your computers should really be configured and protected on the PRESUMPTION that the enemy is already inside your network perimeter.

While not wanting to do an Eadon, the USA should really be applying some pressure to its home-grown problems before worrying about what the Chinese may, or may not, have hidden in networking gear.

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Holmes

"Having one snoop is enough"

Say the NSA with their unnamed rooms in US Telcos...

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well to be fair...

I wish the UK would wrap some of our industries in the flag to protect them, and the chinese and the indians do!

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Re: well to be fair...

So do I but only the ones who actually make things. (Regardless of the regulations we should give stuff like manufacturing trains to our companies - France and Germany both do it).

The thing that makes America (And China and Russia) strong is they don't need anything from anyone else.

We cannot really do that so we need really good stuff that nobody else has. (Not arms ideally either).

The companies we should be trying to get here are the ones that are just the best. (Stuff that cannot be cloned very well.)

Stuff like Victorinox they still cannot really clone those and make them as good. Or Corning (Hint people pay for Gorilla Glass and the patent expired or was issued in the 1950's)

We need some decent manufacturing. (Much more than retail or financial services anyway).

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Happy

Re: well to be fair...

For example, against the yanks?

New Tax rules could be termed the BP Defence Correction Act and aimed squarely at those whose perfidious acts (yes Cr*pple I am thinking of you with loathing) are currently the source of ire. Much like the ire felt for a few warped gerrymandering political animals in the US.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: well to be fair...

We have a lot of decent manufacturing people just like to make believe we don't, the most obvious area being car manufacturing. Engines, aerospace and pharmaceuticals are other areas where we have massive profits in manufacturing.

The death of British manufacturing is a bit of a myth, yes we don't make wingnuts any more, but then why would we when someone else can make them at ten percent the price? You'd be an idiot to prop up doomed uneconomical businesses just so it looks like you're helping manufacturing (which you wouldn't be because then your profitable manufacturing wouldn't be profitable as they'd have to be mandated to buy over priced local products instead of cheaper imported goods therefore greatly reducing profit margins while more agile and competitive foreign exporters would find it easier to undercut the areas where you were formally strong.)

Protectionism does to things over the long term, it screws the consumer by forcing them to buy more expensive products, and it screws the producer by making them no longer have to innovate against competition (which again screws the consumer as they now need to buy a more expensive inferior product)

Even if you add in subsidies you're still paying more as you're paying for it in tax which could be going else where or staying in your pocket.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: well to be fair...

> "You'd be an idiot to prop up doomed uneconomical businesses just so it looks like you're helping manufacturing..."

> "Protectionism does to things over the long term, it screws the consumer by forcing them to buy more expensive products, and it screws the producer by making them no longer have to innovate against competition (which again screws the consumer as they now need to buy a more expensive inferior product)"

You should have explained this to Julia Gillard ( the financial dolt who wasted a BILLION dollars of taxpayers' money futilely trying to prop up the downward-spiraling US-owned Ford Motor Company in Australia ) years ago!

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America don't need anything from anywhere else?

Then how are they managing to have a foreign trade deficit of around 40bn USD? If they didn't have huge royalties from Coke etc rolling in it would be worse.

Go to any wharf in USA and you'll see plenty full containers coming in and mostly empty ones going out.

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Anonymous Coward

Great news

For the rest of the world, if the USA is paying over the top for the kit, probably less features for the buck, then they will be hobbled and damaged, letting the rest of the world catch up and get ahead, I'm not sure about gun control, but what with the reliance on faith and "Being American", as well as the fundamental distrust of science it looks like the USA could do with "Shooting Own Foot Control".

As for the UK doing the same, why not stop the government from buying non UK owned manufacturers cars, say, BMWs Jaguars, Land Rovers, Ford transit vans ahh yes we have no bloody UK owned industry to protect. (maybe ok with fire engines and ambulances, but hardly a volume product)

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Re: Great news

You forgot black cabs :-) although those are probably made abroad now as well.

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