back to article Q. What's a good thing to put outside a building of spies? A: A banner saying 'here we are!'

The Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) has a giant banner hanging outside declaring its purpose to the world. The hush-hush blueprint inspection facility is part-staffed by GCHQ spies, and probes the Chinese giant's networking products for vulnerabilities and any backdoors. Its location is only ever given as " …

  1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    Signs

    Long ago, the CIA's main facility was marked as The Bureau of Roads, which fooled essentially no one. For a long time, though, it has been prominently marked as what it is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Signs

      A quick search suggests that several staff of HCSEC have LinkedIn profiles, and that used to the be the case for a lot of government security quangos.

  2. Stumpy

    To be fair though, it's not as if the location of the main GCHQ doughnut or AWE Aldermaston are closely guarded state secrets, so why should this place be either?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      closely guarded state secrets

      You are so wrong. When a relative worked at GCHQ he was not even supposed to tell his family where he was working and his cover address was in Stevenage.

      The comic opera nature of the whole thing was revealed when he mentioned Cheltenham and I said "Oh, you must be listening in on the Russians." "You're not supposed to know that." "Then why do they advertise in Wireless World for radio engineers willing to learn Russian and based in the Cheltenham area?"

      Also, the horsepower of the ancient submarine currently on display at Chatham is still an Official Secret.

      1. Anonymous Cowtard

        Re: You are so wrong.

        Things have changed. When GCHQ moved to The Doughnut there was an open day for family members, and another a couple of years later. They gave out GCHQ balloons and pencils.

        1. Tom Paine Silver badge

          Re: You are so wrong.

          Yeah. But hardly anyone's heard of Bude yet.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You are so wrong.

          It's also painted on the road in BIG letters as you drive into Cheltenham, listed on the signs and stuff like that.

      2. Cragganmore

        Re: closely guarded state secrets

        So secret that Wiki lists its power output in kW :)

      3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: closely guarded state secrets

        You are so wrong. When a relative worked at GCHQ he was not even supposed to tell his family where he was working and his cover address was in Stevenage.

        A friend had been stationed at Camp David (during the Reagan years) and was required to list his posting as Washington DC. Only difference was if an officer or judge *directly* asked if he was at Camp David he would then acknowledge it.

        Bit perhaps the Huawei centre is pulling a double-bluff. Obviously, if the place is clearly marked as a security centre, it obviously wouldn't really be located there. But since everyone will assume it's a feint to cover up it's actual location, it's safe to put it there.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      I grew up in Cheltenham, and various of my friends' parents worked at GCHQ. Obviously they didn't talk about it, but they referred to their job as "I work for the civil service in Cheltenham".

      Of course, back then there wasn't a Doughnut, and GCHQ was split between two sites on either side of town. There's still rumours that there is/was tunnels connecting them both.

  3. S_W

    Given that the US warning seem to be based on the possibility of compromise rather than evidence of actual compromise - what about all of the Cisco, HPE, etc. switching that is also made in China?

    1. iron Silver badge

      Not to mention the actual evidence of the Yanks opening Cisco gear in transport to other countries and installing back doors.

      1. Scott 1
        Big Brother

        Yes, but that's us Americans. You can trust us, right? Right?!

        1. Potemkine! Silver badge

          and if you don't we'll bomb you.

    2. Crazy Operations Guy

      The administration doesn't care about security compromises, they just care that government funds might not end up funneled into the pockets of rich American shareholders (AKA their campaign financiers). US Policy makes a lot more sense when you frame it as "How will this affect the people that fund the campaigns of the politicos?"

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      it's not so much where it's made as who controls it.

      cisco has murcan back doors, the murkin govt mandated that years ago and every body knows about it.

      they just think cos we do it everybody else dose it too

      1. Tom Paine Silver badge

        They'd be silly if they WEREN'T doing it, thogh asd @GossiTheDog pointed out, if you've ever seen Huawei code you'll realise there's no need to plant a backdoor; you can just use one of the myriad "bugdoors".

  4. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Coat

    Spanner in the works

    By contrast, EU cybersecurity functionary Despina Spanou told The Register last week that the EU Commission, the bloc's ruling body, has seen no evidence Huawei poses a security threat.

    EU is not throwing a Spanou in the works

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Spanner in the works

      It will be fun to see whether the UK wants to court the US or China post Brexit

      1. fajensen Silver badge

        Re: Spanner in the works

        It seems like the UK wants to become the favoured "regime change launch platform" (and dodgy tax haven) for the US - judging from the latest shenanigans envisioned by such "elites" as the UK defence minster.

        Lesser thinkers would think that It is maybe not a good idea with "a brisk show of force" in front of the natives that one might want to trade some whiskey and glass beads with; here, in the 21'st century when those pesky natives are on an entirely different level altogether!?

        1. David Shaw

          Re: Spanner in the works

          the article in the Sun yesterday about Philip Hammond's failed trade talks with China, due to Gavin's spear-rattling at RUSI on Monday, make your point fajensen.

          Confirmation appeaed in the FT today, there was supposed to be a high level declaration this Sunday, which now might not happen because of ourempt gun-boat threats?

          who needs trade deals with billions of ppl?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Spanner in the works

        "It will be fun to see whether the UK wants to court the US or China post Brexit"

        What the UK really wants is for China and the US to court us.

        Of course if you point out that that's not going to happen then you're just part of "Project Fear".

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe it's just the photo...

    ... but have they set up their cybersecurity centre inside a beachside bar with stick fencing?

    1. Ken 16 Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Maybe it's just the photo...

      That would be a good way to recruit cybersecurity people but I think this time it's just you subconsciously rolling over to pub-o-clock.

  6. John Savard Silver badge

    Confused

    And here I thought this was a building housing Huawei's UK operations.

    But even though the GCHQ has intelligence-gathering activities as part of its mandate, evaluating the trustworthiness of products sold in the UK is not "spying" in any sense of the term, it's a perfectly normal and legitimate law-enforcement and consumer-protection activity of government, even if the required expertise had to come from a "spooky" source.

    One could still be concerned about the safety of the people working in the building, as they are still targets even if they're not currently engaged in spying, so this is primarily a quibble about wording.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Confused

      "And here I thought this was a building housing Huawei's UK operations."

      Maybe, maybe, just don't tell the spooks!

  7. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    Huaweimen have nowhere to hide

    1. cshore

      A bit of Kipling...

      “Watch the wall, my darling, while the huaweimen go by...”

  8. Phil Kingston Silver badge

    No news on if GCHQ's finest minds have actually managed to find something bad in the kit yet? Or we still just relying on whatever Trump says?

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      They will no doubt report that it can be deployed in as little as 45 minutes and reach as far as Birmingham.

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        They will no doubt report that it can be deployed in as little as 45 minutes and reach as far as Birmingham

        They said something similar about HS2...

  9. gcla72
    Black Helicopters

    Who are we?

    The whole company is a front for the CIA.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That Huawei logo

    I wonder if they have Huawei's permission to use their trademark on that banner?

    1. dajames Silver badge

      Re: That Huawei logo

      I wonder if they have Huawei's permission to use their trademark on that banner?

      Did you read the part of the article that says that HCSEC is administratively part of Huawei?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That Huawei logo

        I must have missed that :-0

        Thanks dajames.

      2. John Savard Silver badge

        Re: That Huawei logo

        Oh, well, in that case Huawei already knows where to find them, and the banner is scarcely doing any harm. Except to grant the People's Republic of China plausible deniability when several hundred of GCHQ's finest minds are taken out by a car bomb or something...

  11. TeeCee Gold badge
    WTF?

    'ang on

    So the gist here is that a load of spook types working for Huawei reckon there's nothing dodgy about Huawei kit?

    You'll be trying to convince me that Turkeys don't vote for Christmas next...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'ang on

      And when (or if) the Huawei kit does turn out to be a bit dodgy, who gets the blame? GCHQ will be blamed as much as the PRC and Huawei.

      Seems like good plan for Huawei.

  12. tim 13

    Well played

    The American Secretary of State (foreign minister), Mike Pompeo

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