Huawei Technologies – Reverse engineering since 1988

I first heard about Chinese company Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., in 2003 when looking in to third world state run companies to reverse engineer western technology. For me it was not technology but design ideas, which were being stolen, and I do mean stolen. India at the same time was seen as a sweatshop of mac monkeys churning out unintelligent designs subcontracted to them by western cheap companies. But China went one step further. The software they were using was pirated and as it was under Western copyright law. Most Chinese companies ignored this as the copyright laws did not affect them. Not only that, they then started to reverse engineer the creative software as they thought why should we pay for something when we can make and sell it ourselves.

Analysing what Huawei had done in 2005, the company had decided, probably after many failed attempts of making a router themselves, to develop a clone of Cisco’s popular network router technology including its operation system and the User documentation to interface with the OS. It had done this by simply purchasing CISCO technology and reverses engineering 5 patent ideas and then repackaged it as Quidway router.

Copying CISCO technology was a brilliant idea by Huawei, as it would mean they would not have to pay for R&D to create the product. A poor company would come along and would be able to spend half its original budget on the same IT router product, which would have the same interface commands. This would mean that workers would take little time to transfer over to new software/hardware and save the company money as well as not bothering Huawei technical support. The only problem was Huawei did not think that CISCO would be monitoring its competitors and then purchase a Quidway when they became suspicious.

Skipping to 08 October 2012 the Wall Street Journal released a copy of the Investigative Report on the U.S. (NS) National Security Issues Posed by Chinese Telecommunications Companies and ZTE. The media were talking about this for days before but nothing was actually seen until this day, only rumours and voiced comments from US government officials. After 7 years it did not look like Huawei had changed its corporate mission objective – to reverse engineer technology, which had been stolen to order by public and private information retrieval companies.

Have a look at the US (NS) National Security report.

Click to access Huawei100812.pdf

After reading the wonderful *.pdf document from the WSJ I came up with the following conclusion. The US NS were unhappy that the Huawei Company did not give a transparent account of the company’s past and present state of affairs.

The report asks questions on Huawei Company’s organisational structure, its finances and its clients, some of which are red flagged by the CIA/NSA and other western Intelligence Services. Leading on from this the US NS wanted to know about its past illegal activities with reverse engineering western technology, some of which are still going through the courts, and it’s relationship with its military and other Chinese government unique departments.

I could see from the undertone of its questions that the US NS were still on the hunt for the people who were responsible for Titan Rain, GhostNet and Operation Aurora. They believe that Huawei were if not a company, some if not all high tech trained employees were responsible for sanctioning and/or initiating cyber attacks on western countries.

Questions, which should have been asked more directly:

  1. Was the Huawei CEO Mr Zhengfei in charge of a certain unique IT departments within the Chinese government at the time of the Titan Rain and other attacks?
  2. Was the Chinese government still funding Huawei projects of an unusual nature? This may explain the non-transparency with the financial reports of the company.
  3. Are the Chinese now bored playing games with the west so to make it more interesting they are now supplying red flagged country’s such as the Iranian with some toys to play with?
  4. Were they brought in by the Iranian government to reverse engineer the USA UAV downed in 2011?
  5. Were they the company who supplied insurgents in Afghanistan with technology to view Unmanned Aerial Vehicle transmissions?
  6. Were they the company who made electrical products available in bazaars close to foreign embassies in Afghanistan? These listening / information retrieval devices were hidden in electrical appliances purchased harmlessly from local bazaars.

The Americans should not be surprised to learn, like so many of their own companies who had previous military employees and had done similar activities, that the Huawei company has been responsible for bribing clients and officials. There is of course the issue over employee retention due to human rights violations and payroll issues. But that is another issue altogether.

Have another look at the US NS:

Click to access Huawei100812.pdf

Not forgetting ZTE, the US NS were also unhappy because:

• ZTE had done illegal activities in the past so to admit them in public would bring criminal changes from China.

• ZTE corporate structure is suspicious with links to the Chinese Party Committee and how the Chinese government assists it.  • ZTE failed to discuss its business arrangements in the US.

• ZTE failed to explain its work in Iran or the copyright of CISCO systems.

• ZTE failed to explain what R&D projects it was doing for the Chinese military and government.

So what now for Huawei if no one trusts them? Well they have already thought of that and they have already employed key individuals from western countries to help as public relations representatives or advisors as they like to be called.

United Kingdom

In UK current affairs recently the Prime Minister, David Cameron, was delighted to announce that Chinese telecom firm Huawei is to invest £1.3bn in the UK over the next three years. “The investment announced by Huawei today demonstrates once again that the UK is open for business,” he said as he met company CEO Ren Zhengfei. Lucky for Huawei that it is.

Part of Huawei’s appeal for Cameron, he says, is that it has promised to create 700 British jobs. Linked to John Suffolk talking about the Huawei company to Cameron.

Former head of UK Trade & Investment Sir Andrew Cahn – Huawei UK advisory board. Cahn stepped down from the government post in January 2011 and then employed in Huawei that May 2011.

Conservative peer Baroness Wheatcroft – Huawei UK advisory board and chair Claudia Arney – Non-Ex Transport for London, Halfords, Which? , GSI, FT News and HM Treasury – Huawei UK advisory board.

Brian McBride – former Amazon.oc.uk boss, Huawei UK advisory board.

John Suffolk, former government chief information officer, followed in October 2011 and recently penned a report telling governments what good chaps Huawei really are.

These are not apparently issues that bother the British government either. Huawei is already partnering with every major telecoms operator and broadband provider in the UK and is a major supplier for the country’s newly announced first 4G networks.

Australia

The Australian government had excluded Huawei from tendering for $38bn contract with NBN Co, a government-owned corporation that is managing the construction of the National Broadband Network, following advice from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation regarding security concerns. The Attorney-General’s Department stated in response to these reports, “The National Broadband Network is the largest nation-building project in Australian history, and it will become the backbone of Australia’s information infrastructure. As such, and as a strategic and significant government investment, we have a responsibility to do our utmost to protect its integrity and that of the information carried on it.”

Alexander Downer, Australia’s ex-foreign minister now independent director on the board of Huawei’s Australian unit who rejected government’s security concerns.

India

In October 2009, the Indian Department of Telecommunications reportedly requested national telecom operators to “self-regulate” the use of all equipment from European, U.S. and Chinese telecoms manufacturers following security concerns. Earlier, in 2005, Huawei was blocked from supplying equipment to India’s Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) cellular phone service provider. In 2010, the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) insisted on cancelling the rest of the Huawei contract with BSNL and pressed charges against several top BSNL officers regarding their “doubtful integrity and dubious links with Chinese firms”. In April 2010, Sistema Shyam TeleServices Limited, the Indian unit of Russia’s AFK Sistema, didn’t get clearance to buy Huawei equipment.

23 June 2011 – The decision of the GOI to engage the services of Huawei, China to set up a security lab in Bangalore in association with IISc is a decision, which baffles every observer of Information security.

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