The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) published a report outlining the risks it believes are associated with letting Huawei help build the UK’s 5G network.
The report comes as the US urges allies to exclude Huawei from 5G network development projects. US officials believe that the technology could one day be used by Chinese intelligence for spying.
Letting Huawei provide equipment for 5G network in the UK would be “naive” at best and “irresponsible” at worst, RUSI said in its report.
While Huawei is a private company, RUSI said that its Chinese staff “have no choice but to accede to requests from Chinese government departments.”
The report also noted that it is much easier to place a hidden backdoor inside a system than it is to find one.
“In the likely, but unacknowledged, battle between Chinese cyber attackers and the UK’s Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre, the advantage and overwhelming resources lie with the former,” the report said.
In addition, RUSI believes there is risk that close allies may be less inclined to work with the UK in the future if the government approves the use of Huawei technology in 5G network. The UK is part of an anglophone intelligence alliance called the Five Eyes along with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States.
“The maintenance of a ‘Five Eyes standard’ of cyber security in telecommunications is a vital strategic and security interest, the loss of which would go far beyond a reduction in intelligence reports exchanged and might lead to the UK being excluded from work on developing future technologies for intelligence collection,” the report said.
The report comes after Ciaran Martin, chief executive of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, said he is confident that Britain’s cyber security authorities can manage any risks associated with letting Huawei get involved in development of 5G networks.
Earlier this week, the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport said in a statement that it was “looking at a range options” and that “no decisions have been taken.”