Shortcomings in Huawei’s supply chain impact Britain’s national security

With countries increasing scrutiny over equipments produced by those they consider as adversaries, companies in the tech industry are facing headwinds.

According to sources familiar with the matter at hand, China’s Huawei Technologies is facing strong headwinds by way of heightened scrutiny in Britain over the usage of a legacy software component sold by a firm based out of the United States.

Lawmakers in the U.S. have alleged that Huawei’s equipments could facilitate spying by Chinese intelligence.

Growing national security awareness along with Huawei’s relationship with the U.S. company have given rise to these misgivings.

In July 2018, an oversight board from the British government tasked with analyzing Huawei’s equipment stated it had found significant technical “shortcomings” in its supply chain which exposed Britain’s telecoms networks to new security risks.

One of such shortcoming stems from Huawei’s usage of the VxWorks operating system, developed by California-based Wind River Systems, said three sources with knowledge of the matter on the condition of anonymity. Sources preferred to remain anonymous since the content of the report has yet to be made public.

According to the sources, the OS being used by Huawei will stop receiving updates and security patches in 2020 despite the fact that the OS will continue to be used in embedded products post 2020, thus leaving British telecoms networks vulnerable to attack.

“Third party software, including security critical components, on various component boards will come out of existing long-term support in 2020, even though the Huawei end of life date for the products containing this component is often longer,” reads the July report.

Apart from U.S. security concerns, Australian lawmakers have also joined the chorus against Huawei saying its products can be used to facilitate Chinese espionage operations – an allegation that has been repeatedly denied by Huawei.

“Cyber security remains Huawei’s top priority, and we will continue to actively improve our engineering processes and risk management systems,” said Huawei’s spokesperson.


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