Report says NSA targeted Chinese tech giant Huawei

Mar 23, 2014
Visitors gather at the Huawei both during the CommunicAsia telecom expo and conference in Singapore on June 19, 2012. China's Huawei Technologies wants to muscle into the lucrative smartphone market but is expected to face an uphill task in challenging industry leaders Apple and Samsung.

U.S. intelligence agencies hacked into the email servers of Chinese tech giant Huawei five years ago, around the time concerns were growing in Washington that the telecommunications equipment manufacturer was a threat to U.S. national security, two newspapers reported Saturday.

The National Security Agency began targeting Huawei in early 2009 and quickly succeeded in gaining access to the company's client lists and email archive, German weekly Der Spiegel reported, citing secret U.S. intelligence documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The New York Times also published a report Saturday about the documents.

Huawei objects to activities that threaten network security, said William B. Plummer, the company's vice president of external affairs.

"Huawei has declared its willingness to work with governments, industry stakeholders and customers in an open and transparent manner, to jointly address the global challenges of network security and data integrity," Plummer said in an email. "The information presented in Der Spiegel and the New York Times article reaffirms the need for all companies to be vigilant at all times."

Among the people whose emails the NSA was able to read were Huawei president Ren Zhengfei, Der Spiegel said.

The operation, which Der Spiegel claims was coordinated with the CIA, FBI and White House officials, also netted source codes for Huawei products. One aim was to exploit the fact that Huawei equipment is widely used to route voice and data traffic around the world, according to the report. But the NSA was also concerned that the Chinese government itself might use Huawei's presence in foreign networks for espionage purposes, it said.

In response to the Der Spiegel report, NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said the agency doesn't comment on specific alleged activities. She reiterated the NSA's position that its activities are aimed only at "valid foreign intelligence targets in response to intelligence requirements."

"In addition, we do not use foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of - or give intelligence we collect to - U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line," Vines said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.

In 2012, the House Intelligence Committee recommended that Huawei be barred from doing business in the U.S., citing the threat that its equipment could enable Chinese intelligence services to tamper with American communications networks.

In January, the company rejected a previous Der Spiegel report claiming that its equipment was vulnerable to hacking. The magazine had reported that the NSA was able to install secret "back doors" in telecoms equipment made by Huawei and other companies.

Der Spiegel's latest report claims the NSA also targeted top Chinese officials, such as former President Hu Jintao, as well as ministries and banks.

Explore further: Report says NSA intercepts computer deliveries (Update)

3.4 /5 (5 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Report says NSA intercepts computer deliveries (Update)

Dec 29, 2013

A German magazine lifted the lid on the operations of the National Security Agency's hacking unit Sunday, reporting that American spies intercept computer deliveries, exploit hardware vulnerabilities, and even hijack Microsoft's ...

Privacy advocate exposes NSA spy gear at gathering

Dec 30, 2013

A well-known privacy advocate has given the public an unusually explicit peek into the intelligence world's tool box, pulling back the curtain on the National Security Agency's arsenal of high-tech spy gear.

Huawei spies for China, says ex-CIA chief

Jul 19, 2013

The former head of the United States' Central Intelligence Agency Michael Hayden said on Friday it "goes without saying" that Chinese telecoms giant Huawei spies for Beijing.

Apple denies 'backdoor' NSA access

Jan 01, 2014

Apple said Tuesday it had no "backdoor" in its products after a security researcher and a leaked document suggested the US National Security Agency had unfettered access to the iPhone.

Recommended for you

China blocks 'privacy' search engine DuckDuckGo

Sep 22, 2014

China has begun blocking the privacy-protecting search engine DuckDuckGo, which avoids storing user data or tracking online activity, according to the company and security researchers.

FBI widens probe of naked celebrity photos

Sep 22, 2014

The FBI vowed Monday to widen a probe into the massive hacking of naked celebrity photos if necessary, after new reported leaks including nude shots of Kim Kardashian.

New ZEBRA bracelet strengthens computer security

Sep 22, 2014

In a big step for securing critical information systems, such as medical records in clinical settings, Dartmouth College researchers have created a new approach to computer security that authenticates users ...

CloudFlare tackles lost SSL key risk with Keyless SSL

Sep 19, 2014

Organizations looking for and concerned about optimal security protection are the targets of a new service announced by San Francisco-based CloudFlare. The offering is called Keyless SSL. CloudFlare explained ...

When does Google hand over your data to governments?

Sep 19, 2014

Governments around the world want to know a lot about who we are and what we're doing online and they want communications companies to help them find it. We don't know a lot about when companies hand over ...

User comments : 0