A Bloomberg investigative report said that Australian intelligence officials informed their American counterparts in 2012 that their country’s telecommunications systems had been compromised. A software update downloaded from a Huawei device in this country contains malicious code.
The report said that nearly 20 former U.S. national security officials confirmed that they received relevant briefings from Australian and U.S. agencies between 2012 and 2019.
The former official said that this incident demonstrates the suspicions of the U.S. and Australia that the Chinese Communist Party uses Huawei equipment for espionage, but the two governments have never made the matter public.
Former officials said the malicious code embedded in the software update acts as a digital eavesdropper. A self-destruct mechanism is also included in the software update, and the malicious code will clear itself after a few days.
Eventually, Australian intelligence agencies determined that Chinese spy agencies were behind the vulnerability. They infiltrated Huawei’s engineering team and pushed updates to Huawei devices.
As early as July 2013, Michael Hayden, former director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), told the Financial Review of Australia that he had conclusive evidence that Huawei has engaged in espionage for the Chinese communist government.
Six former officials said that based on clues provided by Australia, U.S. intelligence agencies also confirmed a similar attack from Huawei equipment that year.
Huawei denied engaging in espionage activities.