U.S. intelligence indicates Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei has the ability to hack into cellular networks via “back doors,” information U.S. officials have shared with allies England and Germany.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday those “back doors” appear to have been put in place for law enforcement use. Huawei, which many suspect has ties to Chinese intelligence, has had this spying tool in its arsenal since at least 2009 — when U.S. officials observed the secret access in 4G cellular hardware.
U.S. officials kept the intelligence to themselves until revealing it to allies near the end of 2019, the Journal notes.
According to the report, telecommunications companies are required to build “lawful interception interfaces” into their hardware for use by certain officials at mobile carriers and law enforcement. It is these portals that Huawei has exploited, which goes against the industry standards because it is at the manufacturing end.
“We have evidence that Huawei has the capability secretly to access sensitive and personal information in systems it maintains and sells around the world,” National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien told the Journal.
Another senior U.S. official added, “Huawei does not disclose this covert access to its local customers, or the host nation national-security agencies.”