“Shoddy” engineering led to Huawei cybersecurity issues, said the UK’s GCHQ technical director.
Dr Ian Levy, technical director of GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre, said in an interview on BBC Panorama that Huawei could be excluded from what he called the “brains” of the 5G networks.
The UK government is expected to make a decision on whether to restrict or ban Huawei’s 5G technology in May.
“The security in Huawei is like nothing else. It’s engineering like it’s back in the year 2000,” said Dr Levy.
“It’s very, very shoddy and leads to cybersecurity issues that we then have to manage long term. It’s just poor engineering.”
He said that “geographic restrictions – maybe there’s no Huawei radio in Westminster,” could be option.
There are concerns in the US and UK about the potential of Huawei’s technology being used for espionage by the Chinese government. However, the company has repeatedly denied these claims.
Last month, the UK’s Huawei oversight board released a report which did not find any evidence of espionage in Huawei’s products. However, the report said there “underlying defects” in the firm’s practices which could put Britain’s national security at risk.
Ryan Ding, the Huawei executive in charge of the firm’s telecoms equipment division, has said that the the firm will spend more than the $2 billion (£1.5 billion) it has already committed to a “transformation programme” to address the problems identified.
“We hope to turn this challenge into an opportunity moving forward,” Ryan Ding was quoted by the BBC as saying.
“I believe that if we can carry out this programme as planned, Huawei will become the strongest player in the telecom industry in terms of security and reliability,” he added.
The cost of restricting Huawei from UK’s 5G between £4.5bn and £6.8bn, warns industry group
A recent report by industry group Mobile UK highlighted some of the risks restricting Huawei from the UK’s rollout of 5G.
A study by Assembly, commissioned by Mobile UK, a concluded that a restriction placed on Huawei in the telecom supply chain could delay a full 5G launch by between 18 and 24 months and cost the UK economy between £4.5bn and £6.8bn.