British cybersecurity inspectors claim that telecoms equipment from Chinese supplier Huawei contains 'major defects'.
The Huawei oversight board, which is chaired by the head of GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), released a report saying that it found 'significant technical issues' with the company's engineering processes, as well as 'significant, concerning issues' with its software development. This, it says, brings 'significantly increased risk' for the UK's networks.
"These findings are about basic engineering competence and cyber security hygiene that give rise to vulnerabilities that are capable of being exploited by a range of actors," it says.
The report concludes that there's been 'no material progress' in resolving issues raised in last year’s report and says it's only possible to provide 'limited assurance' that the long-term national security risks can be managed effectively.
In response, Huawei says that it takes the concerns seriously and wil work to improve its software engineering.
"The issues identified in the OB report provide vital input for the ongoing transformation of our software engineering capabilities. In November last year Huawei's Board of Directors issued a resolution to carry out a companywide transformation programme aimed at enhancing our software engineering capabilities, with an initial budget of US$2 billion," Huawei says.
"A high-level plan for the programme has been developed and we will continue to work with UK operators and the NCSC during its implementation to meet the requirements created as cloud, digitization, and software-defined everything become more prevalent."
The NCSC previously reported that Huawei hardware is not used in any governmental or otherwise sensitive networks. On that note, the UK-based security agency’s report stopped short of recommending a ban, noting that past problems with Huawei networking gear were just design flaws, not backdoors for the Chinese government.
“NCSC does not believe that the defects identified are a result of state interference,” the report explains.
Huawei comes under increasing scrutiny over its ties with the Chinese government. The US has been putting pressure on other governments worldwide to ban the company's products. So far, New Zealand and Australia have taken steps to block the use of Huawei kit in their planned 5G networks.
Earlier this week, the EU announced that all EU nations would be required to share information on the safety of Huawei equipment. British network operator BT has said it is stripping out Huawei's equipment from core parts of its existing 3G and 4G mobile networks, and won't use the company's kit in its planned 5G network.