Huawei Hires John Suffolk, Former Government CIO

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Chinese networking giant Huawei has appointed the former Government CIO as its cyber security boss

Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies has hired the former chief information officer (CIO) for the British government as its cyber-security boss.

Huawei hired John Suffolk as its global head of cyber security. The news was revealed on Suffolk’s blog.

Suffolk revealed last November that he was stepping down from his CIO post at the end of 2010. His decision to leave was viewed as somewhat curious at the time, as he left his post before the Government’s major projects were launched, such as the flagship G-Cloud project.

Key Figure

However he insisted at that time that the decision was not a show of dissatisfaction.

“I am immensely proud of the way we have supported the new government in its first six months, and have greatly enjoyed working with Francis Maude and his team,” he said at that time.

Suffolk was regarded as a key figure in arguing that the government could significantly cut its IT costs by reducing the number of data centre it uses, as well as making more use of Cloud computing.

According to Suffolk’s blog posting, he had asked David Cameron in February for permission to accept an appointment from Huawei, under the Civil Service Business Appointments Rules.

Suffolk said the Prime Minister gave his approval on 12 July on the advice of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments and following a thorough investigation of the case.

Suffolk will begin working at Huawei from 1 October, where he will develop and manage a global cyber security assurance strategy as well as related systems.

Cyber Strategy

“I have to say I am both thrilled and privileged to join Huawei. As a company we serve a third of the world’s population with our technology, and 45 of the world’s top 50 telecommunications operators are core customers,” Suffolk said.

Suffolk said he will report directly to Huawei’s CEO and will be in charge of continuously developing Huawei’s cyber security assurance strategy and system and managing and supervising its implementation.

“The end-to-end cyber security assurance system will be adopted globally by all business groups and across all departments including R&D, supply chain, marketing and sales, project delivery and technical service,” he said.

Suffolk also said that the Global Cyber Security Office will be located in Huawei’s headquarters in Shenzhen, China and supported by National Security Officers in several countries, such as the UK, India, France and the USA.

Controversial Move

“My role will be to ensure that our cyber security assurance system integrates end-to-end cyber security into solutions covering our cloud computing solutions, pipes/ telecommunications and all devices from mobile broadband to PDA’s where appropriate, the customer-oriented business processes and the whole ICT supply chain,” he said.

Huawei’s decision to hire Suffolk is not without its critics however, especially as the Chinese company faces national security concerns both in Washington and elsewhere.

In India for example, the Government there briefly blocked imports of Chinese telecommunications equipment, citing national security concerns.

As part of its efforts to assure governments and companies of its security credentials and reliability, last December Huawei opened a British cyber-security centre in Banbury, that allows for its products and software to be examined and tested.

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.”

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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