On Feb. 11, the Wall Street Journal ran a story citing U.S. officials who claimed that Huawei can “covertly access mobile-phone networks around the world through ‘back doors’ designed for use by law enforcement.” In other words, these officials claimed that Huawei can exploit backdoors intended for law enforcement in order to access user data without the permission of either users or the network operator.
But in the Journal story, Huawei itself has provided evidence that it builds backdoors into its products.
In particular, the Journal quoted a senior Huawei official as saying that network access without operator permission “is extremely implausible and would be discovered immediately.” This statement is extremely significant in understanding what Huawei equipment can and cannot do.
The second claim is that network access without operator permission can happen (though it is implausible) but that any such access would be discovered.
A senior Huawei official has acknowledged that network access without operator permission is technically possible, as Huawei has gone from saying “it cannot happen” to “it can happen but someone would notice it.” For me, the comments from the unfortunately unnamed Huawei official are far more damaging to Huawei’s claims of “no backdoors” than the assertions from U.S. officials, who have not yet made public any of the evidence they say they possess regarding Huawei’s capabilities.