back to article Huawei to the danger zone, ride into the danger zone... Chinese giant denies America's secrets theft, fraud charges

Chinese hardware maker Huawei pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to steal trade secrets, attempted theft of trade secrets, wire fraud, and obstruction of justice, in the US on Thursday. The arraignment of China-based Huawei Device Co, Ltd and and its US subsidiary Huawei Device USA Inc before a Seattle federal …

  1. martinusher Silver badge

    Huawei fights back

    Full page advertisement in today's paper (Los Angeles Times)....

    "Don't Believe Everything You Hear, Come and See Us....

    It remains to be seen whether anyone does -- our legislators and other government functionaries have got themselves into a bit of a bind where they have to rely on innuendo and FUD because there's nothing concrete to back it up. We in the technical community know that they're making fools of themselves (and by extension, fools of us since they're supposed to be representing us) but they're primary skill is CYA so they're never going to do anything that runs even the slightest risk of being proven wrong.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Huawei fights back

      "We in the technical community know that they're making fools of themselves"

      That is a very bold claim. Suppose that the prosecution's claim that Huawei has a 'Steal secrets! Big prizes to be won!" policy. (If they don't, it's a bit hard to square with why a piece of T-Mobile kit just happened to fall and land in a Huawei engineer's bag.) Now, I've never worked in an organization where we were encouraged by senior management to commit crimes, I don't know about you.

      So we can be pretty sure that there's some apparent proper dodgy stuff going on at Huawei. Including faking an internal report that proved it was all a big misunderstanding. This sort of behaviour might explain why they are suddenly a world leader in certain technology areas...

      We also know that there's some 'security flaws' that have been found by the UK testers, that for some reason weren't fixed for over a year.

      The backdoor threat is probably garbage, yes, but this company does not exactly look pure as the driven snow.

      1. Joe W
        Trollface

        Re: Huawei fights back

        But then, who does look as pure?

        Cisco?

        1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: Huawei fights back

          But then, who does look as pure? Cisco?

          The three "big" manufacturers of mobile phone transmission equipment are: Huawei (number one for a number of years), Alcatel-Lucent and Cisco. (Nokia used to be in that list.)

          A lot of European-based Huawei customers are not shy admitting that they favor Huawei gear because it is more "stable" and has more feature than anyone else.

          All of them agree that Huawei's prices are nowhere near anyone.

          For obvious reasons, Alcatel-Lucent and Cisco will reap a lot when Huawei will be removed from any future installation.

          This may hit Huawei's bottom line, however, Ren Zhengfei, has told the BBC that "there's no way the U.S. can crush us. If the lights go out in the West, the East will still shine. And if the North goes dark, there is still the South" and "The world cannot leave us because we are more advanced. Even if they persuade more countries not to use us temporarily, we can always scale things down a bit.".

          In short, Huawei will still be able to "influence" areas where the dominant players aren't able to compete in prices.

          Unlike Cisco &/or Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei CEO doesn't answer to the board of directors. If profits drop, then Huawei can easily "downsize" (and farm off their staff somewhere).

          Going forward, as competition in the 4G/5G market heats up, subscriber cost will come down. This means that profits will be cut down to the bone. Customers may (be forced to) use "endorsed" manufacturer now. But the question is "for how long"? 4G/5G equipment prices aren't going to come down any time soon. And customers are always looking for the hype.

          There is no question about security implications, however, I wonder if this entire fiasco isn't just a way for western-based-company-but-made-in-China isn't just trying to keep their profits to themselves.

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Political Posturing from the top?

    I do have to wonder in light of things political lately, if this is more politics than an actual crime? I would expect that other Chinese companies would tagged with piracy charges also but it just seems odd that it's this one that's getting the brunt of things.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Political Posturing from the top?

      I feel the US is nervous of companies like Huawei who have grown large enough to affect markets that the US only a few years ago thought they controlled.

      It's also the rapid development of China as as whole that threatens Western economic dominance. China has recently announced the dicovery in existing oil fields of huge previously unknown reserves if natural gas. There is a chance that China may change from being the World's biggest importer to being energy independent and an exporter abd it will be a pie the US doesn't have a finger in. North Korea is next door to these fields, who knows, they could become the next oil/gas rich state?

      1. spodula
        Pint

        Re: Political Posturing from the top?

        "North Korea is next door to these fields, who knows, they could become the next oil/gas rich state?"

        So in other words, what your saying is that liberally Oiled NorK's in Korea are likely to be a thing in the near future?

  3. John Jennings

    They are doing them for Tappy? FFS

    A robot arm which pokes a screen - FFS its hardly a big deal

    1. _LC_

      Re: They are doing them for Tappy? FFS

      Yes, indeed. A German tech-magazine mentioned that they had built such a robot themselves without much fatigue (for testing phones). They also dismantled the allegations. They were old and mostly ridiculous (sods).

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: They are doing them for Tappy? FFS

        When you need to invoke "Yellow peril", you'll clutch at any straws.

    2. HmmmYes Silver badge

      Re: They are doing them for Tappy? FFS

      No, its a bit more involved that a robot finger.

      (Some of this I know/been told, some Ive read, some I can speculate on).

      Huawie smartphone were failing at a huge rate - more so than any competor.

      DT had a phone eval system, one part of which was a robot finger. The test env had various scripts to drive and evaluate the test.

      Huawei did not have anything even close - one reason for this is that, unlike a consomer phone, you cannot reverse engineer internal production kit that never leaves a competitors factory.

      TD knew this. Huawei knew this. Huaewie were allowed access to TD test + eval labs under a strict NDA that they dont knick or copy stuff. This last bit is v important - you had Huawei board level people signing off on a NDA that specifically said 'Dont steal our trade secrets'

      Then the HW eng went and stole stuff. The Eng was cuaght with a physical component of the test system - the arm.

      The investigators then found a chain of emails where the eng was being given specific instructions to rob stuff ofor HW benefits. And HW were oferring their eng money.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They are doing them for Tappy? FFS

        Who or what is DT?

        Who or what is TD?

        1. WolfFan Silver badge

          Re: They are doing them for Tappy? FFS

          DT would be Deutsche Telekom, the corporate parents of T-Mobile USA. Note the pink logo. https://www.telekom.com/en

          TD would, I assume, be a typo.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: They are doing them for Tappy? FFS

            Thanks for that WolfFan - the comment now vaguely makes sense.

      2. _LC_
        Thumb Down

        Re: They are doing them for Tappy? FFS

        "... Huawie smartphone were failing at a huge rate - more so than any competITor. ..."

        Are you quoting from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They are doing them for Tappy? FFS

        The story has aspects I don't understand.

        If your product is failing a test passed by others, the first thing you do is get samples of competitor product and find out why. If it's a screen, how hard can it be to look at things like glass type and thickness, the way it is secured to the rim, the rim rigidity, how the LCD or OLED sits in relation to it and so on? It's called "reverse engineering" and it's perfectly legal. You work out where your design falls short and fix it.

        Assume Huawei to have done that and been unable to find a problem. At that point they might think "um, wonder if there's something in the test cycle like

        int prodderValue = 3;

        if(manufacturerCode == HUAWEI){

        prodderValue = 10;

        }

        while (!cycleComplete()){

        prodScreen(prodderValue);

        }"

        At which point they decide to find out exactly what is going on - is the code doing a VAG in reverse or is there something special about the prodder that they have missed?

        It doesn't excuse them but if they suspected that the test was somehow weighted against them it might be understandable.

        Does this sort of thing happen?

        Years ago I was tasked with buying an expensive piece of US telephone test equipment (at today's prices around a third of a million dollars). The vendor supplied both component makers and telephone companies. And they supplied full schematics of the test fixtures.

        One of the tests it did was simulated lightning strike. The test fixture for this included a small mica capacitor and an inductor, the effect of which was to take the edge off the pulse. I asked why. There was a bit of embarrassment.

        It turned out that without this little "device" the product of the US supplier failed the test while the Japanese supplier passed it. The main customer's QA acceptance had authorised this modification.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Huawei to the danger zone

    Clearly Huawei are a security risk as ElReg is very close to exceeding it's maximum number of Loggins attempts

    P.s. Thank you Archer

  5. M.V. Lipvig
    Facepalm

    No, we do not steal technology as a corporate policy. Now... prease tell us... nucreah seclets.

    Still don't understand why it's so hard for people to believe that Huawei doesn't install backdoor software for the Chinese government just on Huawei's say-so, when for decades China as a nation institutionalizes wholesale IP theft, requires the release of IP property to do business in their nation, and their agents keep getting caught stealing IP again and again and again.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again, telecom gear at this level has the hardware already built in to be able to tap any circuit running through it and send a duplicate stream anywhere, because that's how it is built to operate. Vendors also have the ability to log into these systems in order to assist the telecom's NOC technicians when they need vendor support to troubleshoot network failures. Internal software switching and the ability to have a near seamless working and protect path for data is required by many customers. It's only a software patch away from being able to split a path down two circuits at the same time, and deliver the traffic to a different destination without the telecom operator knowing it is happening, or to make sure system logs don't show that the access happened.

    The software might not be there NOW, but once a telecom invests hundreds of millions in Huawei gear you can bet they will patch the operating systems to allow this access.

  6. Chris Clawson

    Is the Chinese govt still holding some Canadians hostage over this?

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