Netherlands Task Force To Probe 5G Security Amid Huawei Furore

Belgium’s cybersecurity centre said on Monday it has found no evidence so far that telecoms equipment from Chinese firm Huawei could be used for espionage purposes, while the Netherlands said it has formed a task force to study the issue in greater depth.

The US has put pressure on its allies to ban equipment from Chinese companies from their next-generation wireless networks, which are rolling out this year, saying they represent a national security threat.

But thus far European countries, while acknowledging that a spying threat does exist, have opted not to single out Huawei or other Chinese firms.

Huawei is the world’s biggest telecoms equipment maker.

Huawei

China probe

Belgium’s cybersecurity agency has been analysing the risk posed by Huawei, which supplies gear to Belgian operators Proximus, Orange Belgium and Telenet.

A spokeswoman said that to date the agency has not found sufficient evidence to establish a threat from Huawei.

The centre added that it is not yet at the point of producing a final report as it is still investigating the issue.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands said it has formed an inter-departmental task force to look into “the vulnerability of 5G networks to abuse by technology providers and what measures are needed to contain these risks”, justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus wrote in a letter to Parliament on Monday.

The task force is to be led by the national security coordinator, and is to work with operators KPN, T-Mobile and VodafoneZiggo.

It is expected to produce a report by the end of May, according to Grapperhaus.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said on Friday said the country’s government has not yet formed a policy on whether Chinese companies should be excluded.

Espionage

Dutch policy may be influenced by reports last week that Chinese staff were involved in a 2015 intellectual property theft incident involving ASML, a Dutch maker of semiconductor lithography equipment.

ASML acknowledged the theft at the time, but repeated its denials last week that China was involved.

The Netherlands’ security service earlier this month advised the government against using technology from countries that have active hacking campaigns against the Netherlands, including Russia and China.

In March Germany laid out stricter security rules for vendors supplying equipment for its 5G networks, but said they would apply to all vendors and not only those from China.

The UK has publicly criticised Huawei for “shoddy” security engineering practices, but the government hasn’t yet made formal recommendations on 5G suppliers.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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