Huawei seeks to counter security concerns

Huawei Australia's chairman has said a national cyber security centre should be built to test technologies for infrastructure projects, such as the National Broadband Network (NBN).

The company's proposal is in response to a recent US congressional report that issued a warning about potential backdoors that could be exploited by Chinese state agencies and the ban on Huawei participation in construction of the NBN.

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In a speech to the National Press Club today, John Lord said developing effective cyber security frameworks is not just a challenge for Huawei and it should be approached collaboratively.

"Nobody has got it right yet, and as the ICT industry continues to develop so rapidly, it will continue to be a challenge for agencies to keep up with the pace of change..." he said.

"Huawei is proposing the establishment of a national cyber security evaluation centre, to test the security credentials of technologies being implemented into critical infrastructure projects."

The centre would include testing products and equipment for critical infrastructure projects, including the NBN.

The centre could be funded by vendors and operated by Australian citizens who had passed security clearance, Lord said. He said the cost of setting up such a centre would depend on the centre's level of sophistication and that Huawei had not yet spoken to other non-Chinese vendors about whether they would behind such a project.

Huawei was banned from participating in the construction of the NBN because of security concerns.

Lord said that while Huawei was "disappointed" that it was unable to participate in the NBN, "we have accepted the government's decision and we have moved on".

"Of course we stand at the ready if the situation changes, but we respect the government's right to make such determinations," Lord said.

Lord took also a swipe at the US government's House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence which recommended US telcos avoid deploying technology from Chinese vendors such as Huawei and ZTE because they may pose a security threat.

"We sincerely hope that in Australia, we do not allow sober debate on cyber security to become distorted the way it has in the US," Lord said.

"The US committee report must be called for what it really is -- protectionism, not security."

Some observers have sided with Huawei, stating that the security concerns are paranoia and that the company is too big to risk its business this way.

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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