U.S. Officials Say Huawei Can Covertly Access Telecom Networks Through Law Enforcement Backdoors wsj.com

Bojan Pancevski, Wall Street Journal:

When telecom-equipment makers build and sell hardware such as switching gear, base stations and antennae to carriers — who assemble the networks that enable mobile communication and computing — they are required by law to build into their hardware ways for authorities to access the networks for lawful purposes.

They are also required to build equipment in such a way that the manufacturer can’t get access without the consent of the network operator.

Only law-enforcement officials or authorized officials at each carrier are allowed into these “lawful interception interfaces,” generally with the carrier’s permission. Such access is governed by laws and protocols specific to each country.

U.S. officials say Huawei has built equipment that secretly preserves the manufacturer’s ability to access networks through these interfaces without the carriers’ knowledge. The officials didn’t provide details of where they believe Huawei is able access networks. Other manufacturers don’t have the same ability, they said.

The only attribution that Pancevski uses for the claims throughout this article is “U.S. officials”, aside from a single time when he quotes Robert O’Brien. There is no more specific attribution for the overall thrust of the article — not even whether they entirely represent the U.S. intelligence apparatus, nor how many officials described this vulnerability.

Nevertheless, I note that these “U.S. officials”, now worried about the abuse of law enforcement backdoors, somewhat undercut the arguments made by their colleagues in the Department of Justice, who are adamant that every cellphone, tablet, and computer needs a law enforcement backdoor that they promise will not be abused.

See Also: Last year’s still-questionable report from Bloomberg Businessweek about Telnet being left on in Huawei equipment used in Vodafone’s Italian network.