back to article US hands UK 'dossier' on Huawei: Really! Still using their kit? That's just... one... step... beyond

It would be "nothing short of madness" to use Huawei gear in Britain's 5G mobile networks, an American national security adviser has reportedly told UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. As reported this morning, a US delegation consisting of deputy national security advisor Matt Pottinger, junior foreign minister Chris Ford, …

  1. steviebuk Silver badge

    Won't make a difference

    When we have a nuclear power station being built by Chinese. What's stopping them putting a backdoor in that. War breaks out, they hobble it remotely. Or worse, turn it into a bomb.

    1. Glen 1 Silver badge

      Re: Won't make a difference

      "paid for by" not "built by"

    2. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Won't make a difference

      Or worse, turn it into a bomb.

      Step away from your keyboard and get some fresh air.

      1. cornetman Silver badge

        Re: Won't make a difference

        I think the commentard may have been joking.

        1. Kane Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Won't make a difference

          "I think the commentard may have been joking."

          In which case, invoking Poe's Law.

        2. MrMerrymaker Bronze badge

          Re: Won't make a difference

          If he's joking, then the humour element - which some argue is a crucial element - is AWOL

          Just seems like kneejerk paranoia to me?

    3. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: Won't make a difference

      Nowadays it probably can be hacked from some crappyily installed system not designed to be exposed to the internet, better worry about Skynet (I can't remember what it was renamed in the latest film).

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
        Terminator

        Re: Won't make a difference

        Genesys?

        1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
          Terminator

          Re: Won't make a difference

          Right googled it, it was called Legion in Dark Fate

          1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

            Re: Won't make a difference

            Not seen it yet, but have heard they've retconned the existing films again due to all the time travel.

            1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

              Re: Won't make a difference

              You mean they've gone back in time and killed their Grandplot?

              Paradox!

              1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
                Mushroom

                Re: Won't make a difference

                They apparently were successful in killing off Skynet, but they didn't stop Legion (No idea what happened to Geneisys as the systems were still shown to be running at the end), but a Skynet terminator is in the film and the Legion has Terminators much like the Skynet Terminator *Head Explodes*

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Won't make a difference

      Of course it's going to have a back door, how else are the kids going to get to play out in the garden in summer?

    5. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      Re: Won't make a difference

      When we have a nuclear power station being built by Chinese. What's stopping them putting a backdoor in that

      There are a lot of power plants built by western companies and kit with western components that have unpatched networks facing the internet.

      It doesn't take the Chinese, Russians, Iranians, North Koreans to go in and do damage. The damage has already been done when unprotected systems and connected to the internet for every-man-and-his-dog to see.

    6. HildyJ Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Won't make a difference

      Just to note that there have been failures at nuclear power plants and even with nuclear weapons and none of them were a result of a backdoor. The only thing close was the US sabotage of the Iranian centrifuges which involved a physical USB stick.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Won't make a difference

        Yeah, it seems the Iranians weren't stupid enough to connect their secure installations to the web (although it seems they did have a poor approach to physical security)

    7. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Won't make a difference

      You dont need to spend that kind of money. One man with an angle grinder can put it out of action for a very long time without going anywhere near it.

  2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
    Devil

    China should do the same and hand a dossier on Cisco

    China should do the same and hand a dossier on Cisco, as personally I believe both the US and China are as bad as each other (I would add the UK as well but I don't believe we have have any companies developing such equipment other than underlying processors).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: China should do the same and hand a dossier on Cisco

      The underlying OS in older Huawei equipment is the same commercial Wind River OS that powers much of older western Industrial and Defence systems.

      Yes, older 4G Huawei code and processes are no where near certifiable software standards, but then very little commercial software anywhere is. IMHO, having worked on a lot of the commercial communications code - in general Cisco development systems and code are better than Huawei, Lvl7 are better than Cisco, and Juniper are the best of the generally available ones.

      1. mevets

        Re: China should do the same and hand a dossier on Cisco

        I think the Cisco reference was less about poor code quality, and more about ethics. Cisco assisted US government spying both foreign and domestic.

        1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: China should do the same and hand a dossier on Cisco

          Yup, which they now fear will be done with Huawei.

    2. mittfh

      Underlying processors

      Probably not even those - ARM (now owned by Japan's Softbank) just design CPU cores, and license the designs to manufacturers who build them into their own chip designs.

    3. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: China should do the same and hand a dossier on Cisco

      "I would add the UK as well but I don't believe we have have any companies developing such equipment other than underlying processors"

      Maybe TalkTalk has for years been doing the same, but they're so incompetent that they keep losing the data.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: China should do the same and hand a dossier on Cisco

      "...I don't believe we have have any companies developing such equipment ..."

      Yes we do :-)

      Anon for a reason

    5. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Re: China should do the same and hand a dossier on Cisco

      I'd hope that whatever kit we decide to use for a nationwide system will be thoroughly vetted, regardless of where it comes from.

  3. JohnFen Silver badge

    It's cute

    It's cute that US officials seem to think that they still have credibility.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Indeed

      Oh, and US officials are not at "unease", they are frothing-at-the-mouth, raving lunatics about Huawei.

      But I think they do have a bit of credibility left : about the same as raving conspiracy theorists.

    2. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change
      Facepalm

      Re: It's cute

      But they do. The threat they hold over our government's desperation for a trade deal is all too credible.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's cute

        One of the main advantages of having a trade deficit is that other countries need your money. Of course, your citizens may have to do without certain goods for a period of time, but seriously, what do the general populace buy these days that comes from the US?

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: It's cute

          >but seriously, what do the general populace buy these days that comes from the US?

          Buy? surely you have kept up with current affairs? The more accurate question is what does the UK buy and use that doesn't come from a company that can be 'influenced' by the US?

          Perhaps the first post-Brexit trade deal will be with Iran...

      2. Chronos Silver badge

        Re: It's cute

        I don't get this clamouring for a trade deal with the US. All we'd be doing is borrowing a world of hurt when Arsenoise gets it into his tiny mind, waves his tiny hands and opens his tiny mouth orangutanesque that we need to honour their way of doing things, which will immediately "sour the milk" for any other potential trade partners with whom we may wish to do business. This Huawei debacle is a case in point. To borrow a pith headline, "No, no mitigations, it's our way or the Huawei!"

    3. veti Silver badge

      Re: It's cute

      You watch. Boris is about to announce a plan to develop all-British-designed, -coded and -built 5G kit, thus pissing off both the Americans and Chinese.

      1. Roo
        Windows

        Re: It's cute

        Judging by previous form I'm sure he'll follow that announcement up by spaffing a few million quid of tax payers' dosh on feasibility studies carried out by his unqualified friends, family, lovers and offshore/foreign Tory party donors.

      2. Ken 16 Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: It's cute

        Ready in 11 months? I suppose it's no harder than the Northern Ireland Revenue and Customs design/build.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's cute

        Wouldn't it be ironic if the people vetting the Huawei code copied it and used it themselves, it's not like the Chinese have a strong position in that situation regarding IP theft and copyright infringement :P

      4. Rahbut
        Coat

        Re: It's cute

        It'll be built in the Northern Powerhouse(tm) - somewhere near Middlesbrough.

        The government backed company will be called "How-way"

    4. SundogUK Bronze badge

      Re: It's cute

      And the Chinese do? That is extraordinarily naive.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its clear from recent statements from BoJo about the Iran nuclear deal that he will do anything to appease the orange one in the hope that he will respond with an easy trade deal win.

    This is the new world order, where we know kowtow to an unstable personality because we decided to set light to our friends and allies.

    We are still picking up the pieces from the last time we did this

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      The blonde one also wants an easy trade deal with China.

      Its economy is almost as big as the US's, but with far better future growth prospects

      It also isn't run by a manchild, though I'm not sure if our manchild would see that is a benefit.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        It also isn't run by a manchild, though I'm not sure if our manchild would see that is a benefit.

        Are you certain, I think I read somewhere about some rather childish actions against a fictional character aimed at children.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It's run by Pooh Bear

      3. veti Silver badge

        He'd be a fool to do a deal with either one, at present.

        Only a real idiot signs any kind of "deal" with Donald Trump. America's graveyards and prisons are full of people who learned that lesson the hard way.

        As for China, its present government has used the cover of Trump's sheer malevolence to expand its own evil into a shadow that falls on everything it touches. Just ask the American NBA, or the people of Hong Kong or Taiwan, or Prof Anne-Marie Brady,

        1. SundogUK Bronze badge

          "Trump's sheer malevolence"

          You are delusional. Compared to China (forced organ removal, the treatment of the Uyghurs, the situation in Hong Kong) Trump and the US are angels.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

            That's like saying they're only on the third level of hell as opposed to the 7th.

          2. Hugo Rune
            Mushroom

            "You are delusional. Compared to China (forced organ removal, the treatment of the Uyghurs, the situation in Hong Kong) Trump and the US are angels."

            Another fool falls for the Trump and Johnson philosophy of two wrongs make a right.

  5. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    You can imagine the conversation

    "Hey Bojo... It would be a real shame if those fancy new F-35's you have bought suddenly stopped flying now wouldn't it?"

    "We mean it. Stop buying that Chinese Crap and by our Good Old American V8's"

    "Sorry, I mean networking kit."

    "Good! Have a nice day!"

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oooh! Dossier from the US!

    Does it included presidential water sports???

    1. thames

      Re: Oooh! Dossier from the US!

      I've seen a copy of it. It's quite chilling. It claims that China has exploits of mass destruction that can be launched in 45 minutes.

      1. Spanners Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Oooh! Dossier from the US!

        China has exploits of mass destruction that can be launched in 45 minutes

        And the USA sells Windows. How long does that take to launch?

  7. Totally not a Cylon
    Paris Hilton

    Porn & Cat piccys

    As the title says.

    Do we really care who is looking at all the Porn & Cat pictures that 5G mobile users are looking at?

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: Porn & Cat piccys

      Maybe if the person watching "cat porn" has access to privileged information rendering them liable to blackmail. It was/is common practice in the spy game to blackmail secrets out of high placed officials.

  8. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge
    Trollface

    I get the feeling that the super-secret document is a finger-painting by President Trump. And that thought reminded me of poor General Knoxx (possibly my favorite Borderlands franchise NPC). I wonder if dealing with our beloved POTUS is not entirely unlike dealing with Admiral Mikey?

    https://borderlands.fandom.com/wiki/General_Knoxx/ECHOs

    "I have received your sit-rep written with magic marker on the back of a cupcake. It reads, 'Cats are kool!' And you misspelled 'cool'."

    1. ciaran

      So they might stop sharing secret info

      But they're bringing a file containing secret information that the british don't have?

      Like they're not sharing information on how dangerous Huawei is by default?

      With friends like those...

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Hello. Has THE USA PATRIOT Act been cancelled?

    It hasn't?

    Because if that's the case then the USG has full access, on demand, to the guts of any commercial networking hardware.

    So any complaint about "Huawei has to co-operate with the Chinese government" is exactly the situation a US company has with the USG.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Hello. Has THE USA PATRIOT Act been cancelled?

      Not exclusive to the US, although you can get CALEA-compliant versions of Cisco & Juniper OS. Pretty much every country has legislation for lawful intercept which operators need to comply with. So the security design challenge is then how to permit lawful access, but deny unlawful.

    2. SundogUK Bronze badge

      Re: Hello. Has THE USA PATRIOT Act been cancelled?

      The US is an ally; China is not.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Hello. Has THE USA PATRIOT Act been cancelled?

        I don't see how that should matter.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hello. Has THE USA PATRIOT Act been cancelled?

      It's also no accident that Israel is *the* world superpower in terms of 'cyber'.

  10. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    We're in big trouble

    The thing is that anyone with the least common sense would see this for what it is and tell the USA to get lost.

    Unfortunately the person supposedly in charge here seems to be totally bereft of that quality.

  11. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Assange's Cat

    That picture of a cat makes me wonder...

    Does the US have a dossier on Assange's Cat? Will they apply to extradite it? The things it would have seen and heard...

  12. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Gimp

    Welcome to the US-UK post-Brexit trade agreement

    A similar bunch of heavies, a similar document, only this time with an industrial-sized tub of Vaseline.

    Icon shows the attire Johnson will be wearing.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Welcome to the US-UK post-Brexit trade agreement

      I suspect that attire may be routine for the First Wurzel.

  13. Red Right Hand
    Trollface

    Im surprised people arent asking questions about the integrity of Cisco's products or even questioning the accuracy of the report "handed by US to UK"

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Trust

      ...or even questioning the accuracy of the report "handed by US to UK

      This is an old problem. The dossier is no doubt highly classified, which means CTOs and network designers can't question the accuracy. The dossier will probably be shared with GCHQ/CESG which is the government's trusted party to assess the accuracy and risks contained in the dossier.

      Sometimes that's digested and then some parties are briefed. That's easiest inside government/public sector networks that have to be certified against government security standards.. But other network operators are generally left in the dark. For 5G deployment, given the national significance, I suspect the network leads will get briefed on the content, but those briefings will be classified.

      For other potential Huawei users, well, use at your own risk. Which I think is a mistake, and the government/GCHQ should be more open with security advisories/best practice information given attacks against private commercial networks often have large economic impacts.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trump behind the scenes?

    I guess this is yet another batch of hysterical Trump-inspired paranoia and more interference in foreign powers' businesses. The sooner that buffoon (along with Boris) goes, the better.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trump behind the scenes?

      You might be giving Trump too much credit for the actions of a much larger group of bribe-takers and crony capitalists. It's often that the front main isn't the one actually doing the stuff.

  15. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Stop

    How did we get here?

    We moved our technical production to China along with the designers, we quit designing and building tech kit ourselves, unless we get back to designing and building our own gear we've got very little choice. Should we get spied on by the Chinese or by the Americans? You really think that No Such Agency is not doing the same thing?

  16. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    I was reading an article a few weeks ago (I cannot find it any more) from Business Insider about a Malaysian telco's experience with Huawei.

    NOTE: Huawei has a strange management structure -- Rotating CEO position.

    So it starts with the requirement to do a major upgrade (from 3G to 4G or something).

    So with the contenders lined up, the Malaysian telco took a leap and went with Huawei (due to price difference). After the contracts were signed, Huawei pulled all the stops. Everything. Huawei wants everything to go as painless as possible and a lot of things done that was not agreed and not in the contract.

    Next, in one particular segment of the migration things hit a major impasse between the telco and the Huawei engineers onsite (yes, Huawei sent their engineers to Malaysia to help instead of doing things remotely) . The Malaysian telco CEO wasn't pleased. So he placed a call to the Huawei's Rotating CEO for an informal phone "chat".

    Within a week, all of the Huawei engineers were replaced and the works progressed.

    1. thames

      If you buy Huawei kit you can either cherry pick bits and pieces that you want and then combine with kit from other manufacturers, or you can buy a complete turn key system from them.

      The UK's mobile operators want to pick the best technology from a variety of suppliers and combine it into a system using their own engineering staff, or to contract companies in the UK (or elsewhere in Europe) to do it. There's already loads of Huawei kit in the UK's existing 4G networks because of this and it isn't going away regardless of 5G.

      In many third world countries however the mobile operators simply buy a complete turn key system from a single supplier, and unlike many other companies Huawei is capable of doing this. It's not what UK companies want to do however.

      Security comes down to system design, not the individual bits and pieces. When you buy a label there are no guarantees of security coming with it.

      And in the end, the alternatives may be headquartered in Europe, but the actual kit is made is made in places like India, who have their own ambitions for being a world power.

      Oh, and a lot of Huawei's software is written in India. The world is a much more complicated place than it was in the 19th century, which is where a lot of people who put national labels on multi-national businesses seem to have their minds stuck in.

      1. elaar

        Indeed.

        The NHS is full of Huawei kit, with most CCGs opting for Huawei routers for the new HSCN (up to 1/3rd of the price of the equivalent Cisco model).

        BT exchanges similarly full of the kit for FTTC/FTTP etc.

        Of course it's all part of a multi-vendor design, and presents no security risks.

  17. C. P. Cosgrove

    Quote - "Huawei's UK veep, Victor Zhang, said in a canned statement: "We are confident that the UK government will make a decision based upon evidence, as opposed to unsubstantiated allegations."

    Would this not be setting a precedent by the UK Government and, presumably, the UK Civil Service who do not have a sterling record for going with evidence based decisions ? Just as an example look at the record on the 'War on Drugs'.

    Chris Cosgrove

  18. flilotuk

    Ah, the age old:

    <whiny voice>We don't like them over thurrr, so we want yewww to not like them over thurrr either. Plus it means yeww can buy ourrrr tech to use instead! Remember we are your fwiends! We haz a vewy speshul relationships!!</whiny voice>

    Move along, nothing to see here except the Yew Ess of Ayy trying to look busy and important.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is far better done by the US government paying for the price difference between Huawei and non-Huawei gear across the globe.

    In the global marketplace the US so wanted, Huawei's offering is now competitive. I'd like operators deploying cost effective solutions so that the mobile marketplace is competitive is a openly competitive market as far as possible. (Again supposedly a value of the American capitalism but erm not this time?)

    While Trump wants to pick and choose, (what else do little rich kids know) , in the real world that ain't cheap, so open up that wallet, Mr. Trump if you want your NSA to get first dibs on all the spicy spying.

    Maybe that'll get him a Nobel Peace prize too.. NSA spying keeps the world safe innit

  20. Giovani Tapini Silver badge

    I wonder how long it will be before they try to ban "China Clay"

    Obviously this foreign threat we consume a lot of must also be a risk, and its got the word China in it...

    1. John G Imrie Silver badge

      Re: I wonder how long it will be before they try to ban "China Clay"

      They'll just rename it Freedom Clay

  21. Binraider666

    Huawei may have made the headlines, but pray tell, how does one source electronics that hasn't had "Made in China" involved in the process at some stage?

    There are a few chip fabs outside e.g. Intel in Malaysia, but getting an assembled system of any sort without a Chinese manufacturer involved at some stage is especially difficult.

    Our cyber sec ops centre opened added a teleconferencing facility a couple years ago; and within 30 seconds of the cameras being installed we detected the cameras pinging their presence back to China.

    Basically, assume your IT is compromised regardless of supply chain and work up from there.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Joke

      That's terrible! You'd think they would have at least set up some form of proxy in a western country.

  22. SolidSquid

    > It's not implausible, even, that American spies are concerned their level of covert access to the world's conversations will also become available to Chinese eavesdroppers

    Or possibly their concern is that a growth in Chinese equipment being used means that their own covert access will be reduced, regardless of whether the Chinese equipment is being used in the same way

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