Key organisations to carry out Huawei products risk analysis over security fears

Photo: John Karakatsanis, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

The Czech government has ordered the operators of the country’s key infrastructure to ensure they are not open to attack due to using Huawei products. These fears stem in part from the role the Chinese firm may play in 5G mobile technology – and echo those in other states.

Andrej Babiš,  photo: ČTK/Michal Kamaryt
Last month the National Cyber and Security Information Agency warned that Huawei products could pose a security threat.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš subsequently ordered the Office of the Government to cease using mobile phones produced by the Chinese company. Other Czech government bodies have followed suit.

Just before Christmas Mr. Babiš discussed the matter with the Chinese ambassador to Prague, Zhang Jianmin.

The latter later suggested the Czech leader climbed down on the ban, leading the PM to accuse him of lying.

Now Mr. Babiš has called on 160 key public and private organisations crucial to the running of the state to make sure they are not vulnerable to attack due to using software or hardware made by Huawei or another Chinese firm, ZTE.

“Every ministry and state company has to carry out an analysis for potential security risks, to see whether there is one or there is the threat of one.”

This also applies to banks, airports, mobile and internet operators, power stations and other organisations.

Aleš Špidla is director of the Czech Institute of Information Security Managers.

“I would emphasise the importance of carrying out high-quality risk analyses. They should be carried out whatever device you buy and include at a critical point in infrastructure. They must be carried out. If they haven’t been before now, that’s another matter.”

The National Cyber and Security Information Agency will assist in the freshly ordered risk analyses.

Photo: John Karakatsanis,  Flickr,  CC BY-SA 2.0
Its director, Dušan Navrátil, told Czech Television that Chinese technology could prove a threat when super fast fifth generation mobile communication is used more widely.

“New 5G technology will really influence our entire lives. So it’s not just about espionage and the acquisition of information – it’s really about ensuring the system functions, that we have internet, that data is not undermined.”

Mobile operator Vodafone launched a 5G network last year using Huawei technology.

The website of weekly Respekt writes that PPF, which owns mobile operator O2, has signed a memorandum with the company to cooperate on a 5G network.

This worries the National Cyber and Security Information Agency and other Czech security institutions, Respekt said.

The cyber watchdog has suggested that the risks involved in working with Huawei and ZTE products should be taken into account in future public tender procedures.

A number of other states, including the US, Australia and Japan, have imposed major curbs on Huawei and ZTE over national security worries.