GCHQ’s Dr Ian Levy: Huawei is ‘engineering like it’s back in the year 2000’
Huawei is facing a ban from the core of 5G networks in the UK over official claims that the security of its communications products is ‘very shoddy’.
The claims were made by GCHQ’s technical director of cyber security, Dr Ian Levy, in a BBC Panorama programme to be broadcast tonight.
Levy stopped short of suggesting that Huawei’s products have built-in backdoors that could be accessed by China’s government, as the US has warned, but claimed that its underlying engineering was out-of-date.
“The security in Huawei is like nothing else – it’s engineering like it’s back in the year 2000 – it’s very, very shoddy. We’ve seen nothing to give us any confidence that the transformation programme is going to do what they say it’s going to do,” said Levy in the programme, adding that a range of options for restrictions might now be considered by the government.
Levy was echoing the claims made just over a week by the Oversight Board of the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) in its annual report. This indicated that there are a plethora of security problems with Huawei’s communications hardware.
It suggested that Huawei’s technical problems were down to its shortcomings in software development, but added that despite repeated assurances – including promises of a $2 billion ‘transformation programme’ intended to improve security – the company had failed to make much progress.
Industry group Mobile UK has warned that barring Huawei from bidding for 5G projects could cost them several billions of pounds and delay roll-outs. The company’s hardware is already effectively excluded from the core of their networks.
In addition, BT has already started removing Huawei hardware from its existing 3G and 4G mobile networks, which include the mobile network of EE, which also provides the mobile communications infrastructure for Asda Mobile, HP Mobile Connect, NordTelekom, BT-owned Plusnet Mobile, The Phone Co-op and Virgin Mobile.