Czech cyber watchdog calls Huawei, ZTE products threaten the safety

PRAGUE (reuters) – The Czech cyber watchdog warned network operators on Monday against the use of the software or the hardware is made by the Chinese telecom equipment suppliers Huawei and ZTE (000063.SZ), saying they posed a security threat.

FILE PHOTO: People walk past a Huawei store in Beijing, China, December 11, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Huawei, the world’s largest producer of telecommunications equipment, faces intense scrutiny in the West over its ties with the Chinese government and concerns the equipment could be used by Beijing for spying. The company has repeatedly denied the allegations.

“China’s laws to private companies who are resident in China to cooperate with the intelligence services, therefore, introduce them in the key state systems can pose a threat,” Dusan Navratil, director of the Czech National Cyber and Information Security Agency (NCISA), said in a statement.

System administrators in critical information infrastructure, regardless of whether the government or the private sector, should take “appropriate measures” against the threat, Navratil said.

The Czech government agency added that the warning was based on his findings and those of the allies.

In response, a Huawei spokesperson said: “We categorically deny any suggestion that we are a threat to national security. We call for NCISA the proof in place of the attack on Huawei’s reputation without any evidence.”

Cyber security had always been Huawei’s highest priority, and Huawei was a trusted partner for all the major telecom providers in the Czech Republic, ” he said.

“There are no laws or regulations in China to force, Huawei, or any other company, to install ‘mandatory’ back doors’, he said, a reference to the AMERICAN warnings that Huawei’s network gear could contain ‘loopholes’ that would allow Chinese spies to hack into critical network infrastructure.

“Huawei has never received such a request from a government, and we would never agree,” the spokesman said.

A call to the ZTE’s office in London was not answered.

Some operators have been tested to 5G in some places in the Czech Republic, while the investment of PPF group, which owns the main infrastructure provider, CETIN, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Huawei to jointly work on 5G. An auction of frequencies for the 5G transmission is scheduled for 2019.

The U.S. government officials are pushing Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE the majority owner of T-Mobile US (TMUS.O), to stop the use of Huawei equipment, sources say.

Japan plans to ban government purchases of equipment from Huawei and ZTE in addition to the defense against intelligence leaks and cyber attacks, sources told Reuters this month.

New Zealand intelligence agency last month rejected a telecom provider, the request for the use of Huawei 5G equipment and Australia has banned Huawei supply of 5G equipment. Both countries have cited national security concerns.

The arrest of a top Huawei executive in Vancouver at the request of U.S. authorities on Dec. 1 has led to a diplomatic dispute. Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of the founder, faces U.S. allegations that they misled multinational banks over Iran-linked transactions, allowing the banks against the risk of violating the U.S. sanctions.

Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Adrian Croft

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