back to article There's no Huawei back now: Biden signs law that forbids US buyers acquiring kit on naughty list

US President Joe Biden signed The Secure Equipment Act on Thursday. The legislation prevents US regulators from even considering the issuance of new telecom equipment licenses for companies deemed security threats – which means the likes of China's Huawei and ZTE. In October, the legislation was unanimously approved by the US …

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  1. rjed
    Alert

    Insecure gear

    “will help to ensure that insecure gear from companies like Huawei and ZTE can no longer be inserted into America’s communications networks,”

    The notion, fully-secure, doesn't exists in software/hardware world. In security world what matters most is:

    Transparency: Is the code open for investigation? I will ensure that my deployed binaries are generated from the code that I have seen. Many orgs lack that capability but I don't think that is true in telecom world. BT (British Telecom) and UK CSEC had ready access to Huawei code and sure they found vulnerabilities, but at-least there was transparency. Such transparency is not exhibited by Cisco and Ericsson.

    I guess I am trying to make a point which is so obvious and as bright as the Sun. This act is politically motivated. And just the way that no one wants to look into Sun with their direct eyes, the same is true in this case.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Insecure gear

      I found the following article for "BT had access to Huawei code"

      https://www.reuters.com/article/ctech-us-bt-group-huawei-tech-idCAKBN1O41C1-OCATC

      but I couldn't see anywhere reports that they had access to code or such. Do you have a source which my minute of intense searching failed to uncover?

      1. JetSetJim

        Re: Insecure gear

        Probably referring to this, "The Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre" (bit of GCHQ) which was tasked with trawling Huawei source code

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Insecure gear

      National security for the US nowadays is overwhelmingly about economic ascendancy.

      "This is part of our ongoing efforts to responsibly manage the competition between our countries,”

      The above from the article is an example, the West is trying to limit markets for China as well as trying to throttle energy supplies in the hope that continued Chinese expansion can be slowed but I doubt it.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Insecure gear

        "National security for the US nowadays is overwhelmingly about economic ascendancy."

        Which is increasingly under threat

        Quick history lesson: US dollar hegemony has been oil-backed since 1972 by a quid-pro-quo with OPEC countries ("You take payment only in US dollars, we provide 'military protection' in the Middle East") that's allowed massive debt levels to build up (This happened to the pound when it was the hegemonic currency too). Whilst the debt is backed in USD it's inconsequential but if the hegemonic currency falls out of favour then the debts become due (which is what happened to Britain post WW2)

        A good chunk of recent US activity over the last 25 years has been squarely aimed at "punishing" oil economies who dared take payments in something other than USD (Venezula, Iraq, Libya) but the tide is inexorable and the Iran/China deal is unignorable.

        Add the fact that China actually built and fired up a Molten Salt Fuelled nuclear reactor last month (the kind that the USA built at Oak Ridge in the 1960s, then promptly banned and declared beyond top secret in 1972) and oil's time as the energy course of choice is looking increasingly shaky even if CO2 emissions weren't an issue

        TL;DR: This isn't so much about "economic ascendancy" as the overly aggressive 900 pound gorilla realising there are now 5 more 900 pound gorillas in the room (China, EU, India, BRICS, with African Union rising quickly) and pitching a fit because he assumes they're going to beat the crap out of him (projection), so deciding to get a few blows in first.

        China spent 2500 years as the world's leading economy and technological leader, only falling behind recently and they did it almost entirely via trade. I'm picking they're taking the long view and Sun Tzu's recommendation that war is a huge waste of resources which is best avoided whereever possible when you can usually defeat your "enemy" by waiting for them to overspend themselves into military oblivion

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: defeat your "enemy" by waiting for them to overspend themselves into military oblivion

          This is possibly a dangerous strategy, as they might happen to declare war on you *before* their overspending-induced obliviation :-/

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. MacroRodent

              Re: defeat your "enemy" by waiting for them to overspend themselves into military oblivion

              I think China's interest in advanced nuclear power is more related to its desperate need to get off coal, not only because of global warming, but because burning coal makes air in Chinese cities sometimes unbreathable.

    3. Def Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Insecure gear

      ...no one wants to look into Sun with their direct eyes...

      ...no one wants to look into Oracle with their direct eyes...

      FTFY. ;)

  2. martinusher Silver badge

    Proof, if we ever needed it, of our weakness

    I used to design networking equipment back a decade or two ago but all that work disappeared overseas. Along with the erosion of this work our telcos became primarily marketing organizations, focusing entirely on marketing services to customers, trying to squeeze the most out of each customer while supplying the cheapest imported kit they could get their hands on. The neglect of customers, especially small fry in rural areas that couldn't provide the level of RoI they needed opened the door for other suppliers. These primarily Chinese suppliers got a toehold in our market and since they're focused on supplying equipment rather than selling cable TV they were likely to increase their footprint. Established interests can't compete on that level but our politicians are comparatively low priced so that's the obvious route -- we can't make competitive equipment but we do have huge lobbying capability.

    Back a lifetime ago I witnessed the UK's technology industry commit suicide. Many younger people will not understand this, after all the UK has ARM and stuff. But, seriously, it was once a global industrial powerhouse and literally right before my eyes it just went away. I moved to the US when I was able because even thought it had the same tendencies I thought it was too big to fail. I never thought that large sectors of its industry could fall apart so quickly if I hadn't witnessed it. The US still has significant capabilities but its currently on a road to nowhere and will become a global backwater unless it changes its industrial culture.

    1. JetSetJim

      Re: Proof, if we ever needed it, of our weakness

      2000-2010 was the period where UK telecoms infrastructure expertise died - out competed and manouvered by cheaper alternatives. There used to be loads of companies on the M4 corridor, and they gradually cut R&D/engineering until it vanished. Motorola, Alcatel(-Lucent), Nokia, Nortel, all employed significant numbers (me included), but UK staff was too expensive, so all the work gradually either dried up from competition, or gradually migrated eastwards where it was cheaper.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Proof, if we ever needed it, of our weakness

        "Motorola, Alcatel(-Lucent), Nokia, Nortel"

        Upvoted but you make Martin's point. Those aren't the UK firms which had been killed off earlier.

  3. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
    Coat

    will help to ensure that insecure gear from (Chinese) companies like Huawei and ZTE can no longer be inserted into America’s communications networks

    Kit from "Chinese companies" is not the same as Chinese-made kit.

    I am just sayin'.

    Going to grab my coat before I head out to the pub.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      But quite often kit from "US companies" is Chines-made.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "meet on Monday at a virtual summit"

    Nice to know. At least that way they'll only be wasting time, not millions of dollars ferrying Presidents around along with all the retainers, press, cars and everything else, along with the fuel it would cost.

    Hey, maybe COVID will have a positive impact at the political level after all ?

  5. Medixstiff

    "The Secure Equipment Act yesterday, legislation that prevents US regulators from even considering the issuance of new telecom equipment licenses for companies deemed security threats"

    Considering the number of times our Cisco equipment wouldn't work with other Cisco equipment, add Cisco to the list.

    We've replaced most of our Cisco networking kit for Dell for roughly a third of the price and are slowly replacing other kit as we find suitable alternatives.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Given the total absence of any disclosure of Cisco source code for scrutiny to the same level as Huawei allowed I would venture that any company ought to hit Cisco with the ban hammer too.

      Time to bounce back that eternal question: what do THEY have to hide?

    2. PM from Hell
      Facepalm

      Oh the irony,

      I remember replacing a 3COM corporate network with CISCO gear because I could buy the new entrant Cisco kit and maintenance for 3 years for less than the cost of the 12 month maintenance charge for the 3Com gear. This represented a large revenue saving over the next 3 years.

      I had a very interesting discussion with my auditors though as the 3com kit had been bought with an intended 5 year life and I replaced it before the second anniversary. We had a very circular conversation.

      Why are you writing off £250,000 worth of nearly new equipment, because its cheaper to buy new than maintain the 3 com kit, how much are you selling the 3 com kit for? Scrap value as no body wants it. But its worth £250,000.... How I wished for a cattle prod, a bucket of quicklime and an an old roll of carpet.

      To put things in perspective that cost would be well over £1M now.

  6. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Spiralling round the plughole

    So rather than be competitive, the USA has decided to follow the UK's lead. Not prepared to put effort into the actual design of this kit, and not using stuff that actually works and is affordable, but hey, the rich kids are doing fine.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I guess the US is just going to fall further and further behind, as its own tech is rubbish.

  8. Russell Chapman Esq.
    Headmaster

    Hope I'm not being a grammar pedant.

    The first line of the article states, 'US President Joe Biden has signed The Secure Equipment Act yesterday'. You can't mix Present Perfect with Past Simple in the same clause. If the writer wants to say when the action happened then Past Simple is the way to go. Simply put, Joe Biden signed, not, has signed.

    When I was learning Italian and helping an Italian friend with their English, use of the Present Perfect was often problematic. When I see this grammar mistake it makes me have flashbacks.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Hope I'm not being a grammar pedant.

      I agree. I think that's egregious enough to warrant a stab at the "corrections" button, don't prevaricate around the bush (evil grin).

      But hey, cut them some slack. it's Friday :)

      1. 42656e4d203239 Bronze badge

        Re: Hope I'm not being a grammar pedant.

        >>I think that's egregious enough to warrant a stab at the "corrections" button

        The corrections button works well and they (El Reg Editors/Authors) do appreciate it's use (at least, the few times I have used it, they have sent a "ta very much" email). Authors/Editors rarely step into the comments... which is why the corrections biutton is there.

        YMMV of course.

      2. Russell Chapman Esq.

        Re: Hope I'm not being a grammar pedant.

        I did indeed click on the corrections link and have just had feedback that they are updating the article.

    2. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: Hope I'm not being a grammar pedant.

      I suggest to anyone this Podcast if you want to know why the English language is such a mess.

      https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/corpse-corps-horse-and-worse/

    3. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      "You can't mix Present Perfect with Past Simple in the same clause"

      Yeah it's an error that happens when a sentence is partially edited and the rest is left unchanged, accidentally.

      It's a process oversight rather than a misunderstanding of the language. Don't forget to hit the corrections link or email corrections@ if you spot something wrong.

      C.

  9. charlieboywoof
    FAIL

    Couldn't have been Sleepy, he couldn't hold a pen the right way round.

  10. PhilipN Silver badge

    “concerns that 5G networks powered by Chinese kit COULD include backdoors‘“

    My emphasis.

    So they still don’t know.

    1. Santa from Exeter

      Re: “concerns that 5G networks powered by Chinese kit COULD include backdoors‘“

      Unlike the American kit where they *do* know it has backdoors.

      But that's okay, because they are *their* backdoors.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: “concerns that 5G networks powered by Chinese kit COULD include backdoors‘“

        Every piece of telco kit sold worldwide has to at least have the option to have "legal intercept" installed.

        Governments insist on it being there and kit can not be bought without it being present. Sometimes it is even used to spy on the governments! (plug in "the Athens affair" into your search engine of choice. The odds that it was Chinese wiretapping the entire Greek government from 2004 until 2005 is Zero.)

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