Chinese ‘Red Army lab’ raises cyber attack fears

March 14th, 2011 - 1:49 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Mar.14 (ANI): Chinese telecom company Huawei, is developing equipment, which will be used as part of Britain’s BT Internet’s 2.5 billion plans for super fast broadband. Huawei’s close links to the Red Army, the Chinese military, has raised fears among security experts who warn that Britain could be vulnerable to cyber attacks and spying.

Huawei’s head Ren Zhengfei is a high-ranking Communist party member with connections in the Chinese government. He is a former director of the telecoms research arm of China’s three-million-strong People’s Liberation Army and has also served as an officer during the Cultural Revolution in China.

The new technology is aimed to reach two- thirds of British homes and offices by 2015, but the testing of the Internet and telecoms equipment in Chinese laboratories has raised security fears over the sharing of technology between the two countries.

Dr Kim Howells, the former chair of the Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, describes the situation as ‘very worrying’.

He said: “The truth is that no matter how a Chinese company presents itself it is never really separate from the state or free from Chinese government diktats.”

“It gives the Chinese a key component at the heart of British communications,” he added.

An investigation by The Mail on Sunday has located the testing center at the Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen, in the Guandong province and found that the Chinese technicians there have built exact copies of the computers and telecom systems used by BT Internet in UK.

Huawei had first developed links with the UK in 2000 when it started selling software to British telecom companies and in recent years its executives have worked hard to get close to the British Establishment, The Daily Mail reports.

BT had signed a multi-million pound deal in 2005 to buy key parts of its new communications network from Huawei.

To help counter security fears, a cyber security evaluation centre in Banbury, Oxfordshire has been set up by Huawei. This center works with GCHQ, the Government’s secret listening centre.

A GCHQ spokesman confirmed the centre would ‘continue to work in collaboration with Huawei to minimize any risks in relation to Huawei telecoms products’.

“The only way to be sure is if BT was to manufacture and install all the hardware and all the software itself. The lab in Shenzhen is simply used for testing purposes and mirrors the environment that BT will use the equipment in the UK. It is not connected to any live UK network and so any such allegation is wrong,” he added.
He also said: ” The lab is managed strictly to adhere to security rules. It is not connected to BT’s live network, BT’s test networks or any other UK networks.” (ANI)

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