The NSA has been spying on Huawei for years

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Huawei and the United States government have had a turbulent history in the past few years, in fact the Chinese technology giant has all but seen its chances of entering the US market scuppered by a House Intelligence Committee ban on all “acquisitions, takeover or mergers” in the country in 2012 for fear that the Huawei made equipment contains ‘back doors’ that could allow the Chinese military or hackers to steal corporate and government secrets.

The latest revelations from the New York Times (NYT) and Der Spiegel’s cache of Edward Snowden sourced documents shows how, from as early as 2010, the NSA’s project ‘Shotgiant’ was aimed at spying on the Chinese company in an attempt to form a link between it and the Chinese Government’s military, the People’s Liberation Army.

In an ironic twist, the documents also show how the NSA had attempted to create the same type of ‘back door’ into Huawei’s products and networks that it had used to ban the sales of the Chinese built products into the country. What would amount full-scale industrial espionage by any company was instead used by the NSA for the express purpose of conducting surveillance on and, if ordered to by their president, cyberwarfare on allies and enemies alike who had installed any Huawei-made products.

“The irony is that exactly what they are doing to us is what they have always charged that the Chinese are doing through us.”

“If such espionage has been truly conducted, then it is known that the company is independent and has no unusual ties to any government, and that knowledge should be relayed publicly to put an end to an era of mis- and disinformation.”

– William Plummer, a senior Huawei executive in the United States

Whether the NSA is justified in its attacks on China is debatable with at least a half-dozen private hacking groups suspected to be under direct PLA orders that have directly targeted the US government and US-based companies being tracked by the NSA.

The age of inter-governmental cyberwarfare is truly upon us, and we are caught in the crossfire.

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US – Huawei relations (via NYT)

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2003–4
Cisco sues Huawei for stealing source code; the suit is settled with neither side revealing terms.

2005
US Air Force hires the RAND corporation to examine threats from Chinese networking firms; it concludes there is a “digital triangle” of Chinese military, state research groups, and companies like Huawei.

2007
NSA  begins its “Shotgiant” effort to pierce Huawei’s networks and exploit its systems.

2008
US blocks Huawei from buying 3Com on national security grounds.

2010
US persuades Australia to kill a plan to let Huawei build a national broadband network.

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2011
In an open letter to the US, Huawei denies that it is a front for the Chinese government, and invites investigation.

2012
The House Intelligence Committee produces a long report urging the US to “block acquisitions, takeovers or mergers” with Huawei, and to exclude its equipment from US systems.

2013
The US approves purchase of Sprint Nextel by Softbank Corporation, but under conditions that probably exclude Huawei equipment.
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., on a trip to Seoul, urges South Korea to kill a contract for Huawei to build an advanced telecom network for Seoul.
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[Source: New York Times, Image: Shutterstock]

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