Huawei dealers keep mum on spying claims

Chinese manufacturer says it continues to build its enterprise business in New Zealand

Huawei dealers are keeping schtum on recent spying claims involving the Chinese-owned company. The New Zealand government came under fire recently for allowing Huawei to become involved in the roll out of the UFB project in New Zealand after Australia, and the USA has banned Huawei from bidding on certain contracts in those counties because of fears that Huawei is linked to spying activity relating to its company directors’ military backgrounds.

Vaughan Nankivell GM corporate and enterprise at Simms International said, “I have no comment and need to make that clear.” When he was asked by Reseller News how the company is coping with the media coverage in terms of dealing with questions from clients.

Nankivell provided Reseller News with the PR contacts at Huawei. The man with possibly this month’s worse job in IT PR, Mark Champion who is public affairs manager at Huawei said, in an email, “For the moment, we are building the enterprise business in New Zealand and think it premature we talk about that business at this time. But thank you for your interest and we hope we will have the opportunity in the future.”

Nankivell stressed his focus on the products, “My focus is of the Huawei products and its business as usual. I can tell you what we’re doing on the product set and I can tell you what we’re doing with our strategy and I’ve shared that before with Reseller News about a month ago. That’s pretty much all I can contribute at this stage. Anything else relating to the Australian Government is ‘no comment.’”

Much hype has appeared in the media about the Chinese government wanting to get access to the Echelon system which monitors satellite communications from bases in the USA, Britain, Canada, Australia and two stations here in New Zealand at Tangimoana and Waihopai. Huawei is an employee-owned company but its founders and directors have well documented past links to the Chinese Government. Huawei was banned recently by Australia for bidding on the Next Generation Network project there. It has also been banned in the USA from network projects.

An Auckland based security expert who requested to remain anonymous explained there are plenty of ways to snoop on peoples’ email or voice conversations. He said it often doesn’t really matter about the hardware as many secure transactions and emails that use https involve the issuing of certificates from certificate authorities can be intercepted. The certificate is then replaced with one issued from the man in middle and the encrypted packets can then be deciphered.

Telephone voice interception can be done at any switch with LIMS (Lawful Interception Management System) applications. This system is often used by government s and law enforcement agencies to legally spy on people’s telephone calls or emails and can be installed remotely on any switch or router.

A modified LIMS system was used in Greece to spy on government officials during the Athens Olympics and was illegally altered by unknown code writers in order that the application could sit on an Ericsson switch without being noticed in the logs and forward selected calls to eavesdroppers listening in on prepay mobile phones. No one was ever caught or charged with the spying since the data on the switches was deleted before the authorities had a chance to analyse it.

Mobile operator 2degrees currently uses Huawei Switches and routers. Vodafone uses Huawei USB 3 G Vodem sticks made by Huawei and Huawei wireless modems and phones are available on line through Trade Me.

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