Huawei Establishes UK Cyber Security Centre

Amid ongoing national cyber security concerns, Huawei has announced the creation of a cyber security centre in the UK

The Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies has announced that it has established a UK-based security centre that will allow its products and software to be examined and tested.

Huawei’s “Cyber Security Evaluation Centre” in Banbury was actually unveiled last month, with the opening ceremony held on 24 November.

The idea is that Huawei’s equipment (both hardware and software), will be tested in the centre to “ensure its ability to withstand growing cyber security threats.”

Cyber Security

Cyber security is a critically important issue facing the telecommunications industry today,” said the Chinese company. “With the rise of IP-based telecoms networks, increased business integration and the proliferation of smart devices, telecoms networks are becoming increasingly open, integrated, and vulnerable to security threats.”

“One of CESG’s roles is to work with selected telecoms vendors, like Huawei, operating within the UK market,” said a spokesperson from CESG, the Information Assurance arm of GCHQ.

“No system is completely invulnerable and the globalisation of the telecoms industry means it faces a growing range of cyber security threats,” the CESG spokesperson said. “CESG will work with Huawei to ensure their products meet UK government security standards.”

Glasshouse Transparency

“The new Cyber Security Evaluation Centre is a key part of Huawei’s end-to-end global security assurance system. This centre is like a glasshouse – transparent, readily accessible, and open to regulators and our customers,” said John Frieslaar, MD of Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre.

“The establishment of this centre demonstrates our commitment to building mutual trust in the area of cyber security and to continuously delivering high-quality and reliable communications networks to our customers in the UK,” he added.

Yet there is little doubt that national security concerns are still rife.

China Worries

Reuters for example said that Huawei has seen its plans for global expansion crimped by national security concerns among foreign governments.

It mentioned that India for example had blocked imports of Chinese telecommunications equipment, citing national security concerns. The ban was apparently lifted after Huawei and ZTE complied with a new set of rules. And it also cited a Wall Street Journal report last month that both companies were kept out of a large Sprint Nextel contract because of US national security concerns.

Matters were not helped by recent revelations from Wikileaks, which included US embassy documents stating that a Chinese Politburo member had ordered the attack on Google earlier this year, which led to the search engine giant briefly withdrawing from that country.

But Huawei is hoping that this UK centre will act to allay these fears.

And the company is not alone in doing this. In October, American defence contractor Northrop Grumman Corp opened a cyber security test range in Hampshire where institutions can test their own networks and infrastructure against hackers and viruses.

Political Recognition

There is little doubt that cyber security is gaining increasing recognition by UK authorities. In October the coalition government earmarked £650 million for a cyber security initiative.

This followed a rare public warning from the boss of GCHQ, the UK agency responsible for gathering intelligence, eavesdropping and breaking codes, that the UK is facing ‘real and credible’ threats from cyber attacks on its critical infrastructure.

In Europe last month The Cyber Europe 2010 test simulated an attack designed to cut Europe’s nations off from one another. And European nations are now looking to form their own Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) to fight Internet threats. The UK armed forces minister Nick Harvey has previously called for the UK to have its own cyberdefence team.

Meanwhile the European Union, United States and NATO have been meeting to discuss how to tackle crime and terrorism on the Internet.