Huawei, a Chinese company recently making news, manufactures cell phones and other telecommunication equipment, and national governments across the globe are waking up to what this really means.
Huawei can enable, through its technology, the pilfering of industrial secrets, state secrets, and even your personal secrets.
Paranoia? Hyperbole? Fantasy? Not at all, and here’s why.
The networks that carry data are strung together with various types of high-tech electronics, such as routers and switches. These electronics can be made to copy and forward data, divert data, or change data en route.
Huawei has been gaining a larger and larger market share in this transmission technology, which means a larger and larger share of the world’s transmitted data is going through Huawei tech.
So emails between Army generals or your tax return filings, for example, could go through Huawei tech.
The field of information security focuses on three objectives: confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information. If you have control over the transmission technology, you can compromise any or all of these objectives—and no one would ever know.
Huawei also makes cell phone towers, and whoever knows the inner workings of the towers can listen to and record your conversations.
An Arm of the State
As the Guardian said, “The U.S. considers Huawei to be an arm of the Chinese state—and their devices to be potential spying equipment for Beijing.”
The founder of Huawei started his career in electronics research with the Chinese military, but even if that were not so, his company would still ultimately be at the service of the state. The communist regime still has its tentacles deep into every aspect of Chinese society, contrary to any recent appearances of openness in China.
You may wonder if Chinese companies and Chinese people have some protections under the Chinese Constitution. Yes, China has a constitution, but any resemblance to the Constitution that has shaped America for the last two centuries is purely coincidental. The Chinese Constitution is subordinate to the wishes of the Communist Party (CCP). The Party can rewrite any part of the constitution or any laws whenever it suits it, and apply the new provisions retroactively for good measure. There is no constitutional check against the raw power of the CCP.
Let’s remember that the Chinese Communist Party is not really a political party, but a mechanism for seizing power and maintaining control over the people. It has propagated such evil deeds as causing 80 million unnatural deaths in China, and harvesting organs for profit from living Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners of conscience.
The CCP could require that Chinese tech companies build in “back doors,” or special spy chips, or mechanisms to have the equipment “phone home” and send your data. Any information that passes through such equipment is at risk.
Fortunately, countries are banning or restricting technology from Huawei and other Chinese high-tech companies. The United States, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Taiwan, have done so, and Germany and the EU are considering it.
Buying a new cell phone? A panel assembled for the Senate Intelligence Committee in February 2018 that included officials from the FBI, CIA, and NSA recommended people not purchase devices from Huawei or another Chinese company, ZTE.
Nations are waking up, and we as individuals can keep our eyes wide open for technology that has unseen—but known—“extra features.”
Can’t seem to remember the word “Huawei”? Just watch out for its logo, which looks something like a headless peacock with CCP-red (sometimes called “blood-red”) feathers.