back to article Huawei under investigation for having tech installed near US missile silos

The Biden administration has quietly probed Huawei over fears cell towers outfitted with its hardware could be spying on US military bases and missile silos.  The investigation, according to Reuters, was opened by the US Commerce Department in early 2021, subpoenaing Huawei in April for information on "the company's policy on …

  1. Duncan Macdonald

    The US still trying to justify its anti-Huawei stance

    As Huawei is an equipment supplier, where its customers (the telcos) place cell towers is outside its control.

    A more accurate set of justifications would be

    1) Huawei equipment is cheaper than Cisco's hurting the profits of Cicso.

    2) Huawei equipment does not come with the NSA backdoors built in.

    3) The US is trying to cripple the economy of China (see also the restrictions imposed on other Chinese manufacturers (eg SMIC)).

    1. redpawn

      Re: The US still trying to justify its anti-Huawei stance

      If China weren't spying, they wouldn't be doing their job. Just because the US does it, doesn't mean it is in their best interest to allow others to do it to them. For the rest of the world, pick your poison.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: The US still trying to justify its anti-Huawei stance

        >If China weren't spying, they wouldn't be doing their job.

        They, like others, are most probably using the NSA backdoors in US manufactured kit...

        What I like is that US telco's are supposed to be removing Huawei kit from their networks, so why are US telcos installing Huawei kit in new cells...

        1. A random security guy

          Re: The US still trying to justify its anti-Huawei stance

          So they can ask the us giver to give money to remove them.

        2. Tubz Silver badge

          Re: The US still trying to justify its anti-Huawei stance

          1. Buy cheap Huawei kit.

          2. Taxpayer pays to replace and install more expensive gear.

          3. Taxpayer gets a kick back in sales tax and company taxes, still makes a loss.

          4. Company sells on cheap Huawei kit to other countries who don't care, profit.

          5. Joe public gets his phone calls, social media, streaming and is happy.

          6. US Gov looks tough on China.

          7. Chinese competitors make losses, China gets miffed but can't afford to upset the trade apple cart too much.

          1. Lordrobot

            Re: The US still trying to justify its anti-Huawei stance

            Apple cart.... Oh I don't know. The US is a mere 12% of China's Trade. A few weeks ago an Air Carrier bought $38 Billion in Airbus aircraft and ZERO dollars from Boeing. I think the Chinese can push the US apple cart into the sea.

            Also, Huawei is selling kits throughout Asia and emerging world markets. The US meanwhile has no 5G, it's entirely dependent on European makers... UH OH... But the good news is that all European makers must first Consult with the US to see if the US will "ALLOW" European firms to sell to various customers.

            US Taxpayers are good for it. Just sent them the bills... and pack a little extra for yourselves...

            : Breaker 1-9... this is Huawei Tower Montana calling Beijing... we have a NUKE silo in site and have one question... Why would Muricans put a nuke silo in Montana?"

            Beijing to Huawei Tower: "Because Montana Nuked would have the same monetary value as Montana unnuked."

    2. Ididntbringacoat

      Re: The US still trying to justify its anti-Huawei stance

      No "justification" is necessary.

      Any Country that does not restrict or ban sales and use of computer and comm gear built by a foreign interest that sees itself as an economic and Military opponent is deluded or suicidal.

      China now purports to have the largest, Navy on the planet and continues to operate as if preparing for War. With whom, one might ask?

      1. Lordrobot

        Re: The US still trying to justify its anti-Huawei stance

        Of course, the US 900 global military bases don't count. BTW are you aware that all 5G equipment sent to the US is manufactured by foreign powers in Europe?

  2. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

    Message to the world

    Check if you have any American equipment located close to any sensitive areas in your country, you are being spied upon.

    1. Smeagolberg

      Re: Message to the world

      Interesting that you were down-voted when it came to public knowledge a few years ago that the US had been doing exactly that to embassies of 'friendly' countries all over the world.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Message to the world

        I see the up and down votes on comments as good indications of the El Reg registered readers politics.

        1. Captain Boing

          Re: Message to the world

          agree with that 100% it is an interesting bellwether I have, half-amused, watched (with a high degree of success in my predictions) for some time

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    3. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: Message to the world

      Yup. I'd ask you to tell me about your nuclear vessels but we've already got the locations, schematics and repair contracts.

  3. Yes Me Silver badge

    Mass paranoia

    It's just like mass hysteria except that it's infected only US politicians, and nobody who actually understands technology.

    1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: Mass paranoia

      Except that the equipment is set up perfectly for spying. It's how it works. Telecom gear from all makes allows for protected circuit paths, and has the ability to do 1:1 duplication allowing the recieving equipment to decide which path to use. It wouldn't take anything at all to duplicate the data to a third path without anyone knowing provided the spy purchased a circuit of the same size to shunt traffic to. Vendors also have their own backdoor access to equipment for vendor-assisted troubleshooting and upgrades, and it wouldn't take much to slip in an unreported account to allow them to get in without anyone seeing.

      So yes, Huawei can absolutely allow China to spy on any nation using Huawei gear. So can any of the other telecom providers. Just a matter of deciding which nation you want spying on you, and it's best to go with one most aligned to your national interests. The only alternative is design your own equipment. Juet don't think your own goverment won't jump at the chance to spy as well.

      Just because you are paranoid does not mean they aren't out to get you.

      1. Duncan Macdonald

        Re: Mass paranoia

        There is one major practical objection to your statement. A telco tower typically has multiple GB/sec bandwidth to the phones that it serves. To copy that amount of data would require a very big data channel that would be immediately obvious to any investigation.

        OTOH copying all the communications to and from a individual phone would be easy.

      2. Paul Smith

        Re: Mass paranoia

        I am afraid that you don't seem to know very much about how cell towers, communications or telcos work. You aren't a politician by any chance? The telco buys the gear and installs it in base station at the foot of the cell tower. Huawei don't choose who buys their gear, Huawei don't choose where it is installed, and Huawei doesn't pay for the juice it consumes. Double the data and you double the juice and yes, the telcos would notice, and no, you couldn't slip an extra power supply in there, telcos would notice that as well. Also, since telcos haven't been allowed to buy Huawei gear for quite a while, these towers must have been installed quite some time ago.

        MaCarthyism is alive and well in the land of the free.

    2. KA1AXY

      Re: Mass paranoia

      Sounds like a bit of a reach.

      How would Huawei know where a given item was located? And building "missile monitoring" tech into every piece of equipment just on the off chance it would end up near a silo? That's pretty expensive. And what, exactly are they sniffing? Missileers' cell phone calls? They can do that without any special equipment through any number of "law enforcement" backdoors.

  4. Anonymous Coward


    Trying to fan the flames of the new cold war is expected (for both sides) but the idea that cell towers (placed by American telcos) are spying on missile bases is silly.

    A much more effective ban to thwart Chinese spying would be to ban TikTok in the United States. But then we get into the politics of America which doesn't want to go after things Americans would miss.

  5. Teejay

    Huawei supplies services, too

    I want to clarify something here. Huawei is by no means a pure equipment supplier. Many telcos in the West, and very probably Africa and South America, outsource equipment *and* services to Huawei. So basically Huawei has carte blanche to do whatever they like, with little to no oversight.

  6. localzuk Silver badge

    I'm sure

    I'm sure Huawei will reply saying of course they don't spy, and don't share intercepted data with foreign entities.

    The thing is, every company will say that. If you're spying, you're hardly going to give yourselves up due to a polite request are you?

    Realistically, the USA needs to make its mind up. Accept Huawei are a risk, and force all their kit to be stripped out today. Or accept they're not a risk and stop bothering them constantly.

    Honestly, if I were the Chinese govt, I wouldn't be using Huawei kit or Hikvision kit to spy with. I'd be using American kit that is outsourced to China to manufacture. Cisco outsource to China... But I bet there's no investigation into them?

  7. EnviableOne

    Huawei kit is cheap, easy to buy (their finance terms are amazing) its more efficient and less power hungry than the Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung kit and was basically taking over the RAN market

    The security issue was moot, the HCSEC the GCHQ offshoot that has oversight of all Huawei kit deployed in the uk, its source code and hardware, has said their coding is so auful and their software standards so bad, that if there were CCP back doors they were indistinguishable from the exploitable bugs in the code that was exploitable by everyone else. This assessment was freely available to all in the US of A and any other of the Five nations separated by a common language.

    so basically Uncle Sam shot himself in the foot and the rest of us along with him, causing us all to either keep the cheap kit flowing with the company's stability (due to it no longer being able to get US components) being shot, or rip and replace with inferior more expensive kit

  8. OldCrow 1975

    Bulldoze Huawei towers

    Come on Air Force. Grow a pair. Just bulldoze the towers with Huawei anything in or around them.

    China is spying on you.

  9. martinusher Silver badge

    Government BS degrades its credibility

    You put missile silos in sparsely populated area which are -- surprise! -- served by rural telcos.

    There is no such thing as a 'restricted government frequency' in the US. You obviously can't transmit on any frequency without an appropriate license but you can certainly listen in to anything. (You probably won't hear anything useful, of course.) The fact that a government agency shows such a lack of understanding of communications undermines its credibility, and by extension the credibility of the Federal government as a whole. But then we're getting used to treating DC as an island, a bubble that lives in a world of its own entirely disconnected from the reality of the US as a whole.

    ...and why is Chinese kit prevalent in rural market telcos? Back when Huawei was getting traction in the market it needed to find a niche where it could sell kit and it found it with small operators in rural areas. The sort of telco that's too small for the (then) big boys to bother with and too impoverished to be able to afford their prices. This isn't Chinese spy methodology, its generic business practice. Something that most US corporations need to re-learn -- they spend far too much effort on financial engineering and playing influence games with legislators and government procurement and far too little actually developing and making product, preferring to outsource all that tedious and capital intensive manufacturing activity (often've guessed......China).

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