Huawei kit contained flaws of 'national significance', NCSC reports

The report finds that the defects were not the result of interference from the Chinese state

Huawei failed to comply with “its own secure coding guidelines” during an incident which likely led to a vulnerability "of national significance", according to a new report.

Although the incident in question, which occured in 2019, was remedied before it could be exploited, the number of Huawei vulnerabilities had “risen significantly” since 2018, a report by the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) has detailed.

The HCSEC, which is a group belonging to Huawei but directed by the UK's National Cyber Security Centre and overseen by an independent oversight board, found “sustained evidence of poor coding practices”, in spite of “minor improvements over previous years”.

It also found limited confidence in the Chinese tech giant, saying that the Huawei products analysed were found to have “major quality deficiencies”.

However, the NCSC also added that it “does not believe that the defects identified are a result of Chinese state interference”, a decision which was welcomed by Huawei.

“This latest report highlights our commitment to a process that guarantees openness and transparency, and demonstrates HCSEC has been an effective way to mitigate cyber security risks in the UK,” said a Huawei spokesperson. “As innovators, we continue significant investment to improve our products. The report acknowledges that while our software transformation process is in its infancy, we have made some progress in improving our software engineering capabilities.”

The spokesperson added that Huawei “has faced the highest level of scrutiny for almost 10 years”.

“This rigorous review sets a precedent for cyber security collaboration between the public and private sectors, and has provided valuable insights for the telecoms sector. We believe this mechanism can benefit the entire industry and Huawei calls for all vendors to be evaluated against an equally robust benchmark, to improve security standards for everyone,” the spokesperson added.

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However, the report concluded that the Oversight Board behind the report “can only provide limited assurance that all risks to UK national security from Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s critical networks can be sufficiently mitigated long-term”.

The findings are likely to compromise Huawei’s difficult position in the UK market, which had been heavily influenced by US sanctions and the company being perceived as a threat to national security.

In July, the UK government banned Huawei equipment from being used in the country's 5G infrastructure.

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