Chinese spies allegedly used a breach in Huawei’s software to hack Australian telecommunications systems a decade ago, according to an investigation. Bloomberg News.
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According to the outlet, updating software containing malicious code would have triggered a breach that occurred in Australia in 2012.
Australian intelligence officials then reportedly notified their American counterparts of the intrusion attempt, a violation that has since been confirmed by several former national security officials.
This hack would have raised the two countries’ suspicions about China’s use of Huawei equipment for espionage purposes. The discoveries come as Australia, the US and the UK have also decided to ban the Chinese telecom giant from their 5G network.
“The update appeared to be legitimate, but contained malicious code that acted as eavesdropping, reprogramming infected equipment to record all communications going through it before sending data to China,” Bloomberg News said in its investigation.
The code would have deleted itself after a few days. However, Australian intelligence claimed that Chinese spies had infiltrated Huawei technicians to carry out their operations.
“Australians, right from the start, have shown courage in sharing the information they have, not only with intelligence channels, but more broadly through government channels,” Michele Flournoy, co-founder and partner at national security consulting firm WestExec Advisors LLC.
“Australia went through it, but it was also a proxy awakening for Australia’s allies,” she added.
However, Bloomberg News has not found any evidence to determine whether senior Huawei executives were involved in the case.
“It is difficult to comment on speculation and undisclosed ‘key sources’,” said John Suffolk, Huawei’s director of global cybersecurity, in a statement. “And so on.”
According to Suffolk, Huawei technicians can only access networks when the customer gives them permission. Customers can also control updates.
“We closely monitor all of our engineers. When permitted by law, we do additional checks,” he said. “We monitor the software and equipment they use, and mandatory compliance training is required annually.”
In a press release, the Chinese Foreign Ministry also denounced “Australia’s slander against China”.
“This kind of arbitrary defamation of another country is a highly irresponsible act that China firmly opposes,” the ministry said, according to the outlets. We urge Australia not to misuse the name ‘national security’ and make baseless accusations and put unreasonable pressure on Huawei and other Chinese companies.”
Remember, Ottawa has yet to announce its decision on a possible ban of Huawei from 5G networks in Canada.
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