Pointedly expanding its efforts to address Chinese cybersecurity threats, the United States today urged Australia to keep Huawei equipment out of its 5G networks, reports Australia’s Financial Review. U.S. lawmakers and security agencies previously lobbied top U.S. carriers to cut ties with Huawei, but today’s discussions with Australia reach well beyond American borders, suggesting the potentially global scale of the 5G security risk.
According to the report, the heads of the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security personally briefed Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on “U.S. concerns about Chinese involvement in 5G networks,” including “security risks posed by Huawei’s potential involvement.” The report said that “Beijing’s cyber espionage was among the ‘top two’ risks on the U.S.-Australia cyber security agenda,” as Huawei is beholden to the Chinese government, and allowing China to gain control of a 5G network could enable it to control “everything.”
In addition to benefiting from Chinese government funding, Huawei’s organization includes a Chinese government committee for reasons the company apparently has not explained. U.S. officials have long suggested that the company’s hardware could include backdoors, permitting Chinese government monitoring of users’ communications, and eventually controlling public infrastructure in the 5G era. Even without a major role in the U.S. market, however, Huawei has grown to become the largest telecommunications manufacturer in the world, and it’s worked with many leading companies on both mobile devices and standards.
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