U.S. to China: We Hacked Your Internet Gear We Told You Not to Hack
The headline news is that the NSA has surreptitiously “burrowed its way into nearly all the security architecture” sold by the world’s largest computer networking companies, including everyone from U.S. mainstays Cisco and Juniper to Chinese giant Huawei. But beneath this bombshell of a story from Der Spiegel, you’ll find a rather healthy bit of irony.
After all, the United States government has spent years complaining that Chinese intelligence operations could find ways of poking holes in Huawei networking gear, urging both American businesses and foreign allies to sidestep the company’s hardware. The complaints grew so loud that, at one point, Huawei indicated it may abandon the U.S. networking market all together. And, yet, Der Speigel now tells us that U.S. intelligence operations have been poking holes in Huawei networking gear — not to mention hardware sold by countless other vendors in both the States and abroad.
“We read the media reports, and we’ve noted the references to Huawei and our peers,” says William Plummer, a Huawei vice president and the company’s point person in Washington, D.C. “As we have said, over and over again — and as now seems to be validated — threats to networks and data integrity can come from any and many sources.”
Plummer and Huawei have long complained that when the U.S. House Intelligence Committee released a report in October 2012 condemning the use of Huawei gear in telephone and data networks, it failed to provide any evidence that the Chinese government had compromised the company’s hardware. Adam Segal, a senior fellow for China Studies at the Center for Foreign Relations, makes the same point. And now we have evidence — Der Spiegel cites leaked NSA documents — that the U.S. government has compromised gear on a massive scale.