The Australian Institute for Strategic Policy has discovered Huawei's involvement in the construction of a data center for the government of Papua New Guinea, which could be used to steal government information in favor of the Chinese authorities. According to the institute's report, Huawei deliberately used outdated software and weak security settings in it.
The first evidence of Huawei's involvement in espionage
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) published a report in which it provided, in its opinion, evidence of Huawei's spying activities in favor of the Chinese government. The document says the tech giant was involved in stealing government information from the government of Papua New Guinea.
The ASPI document, considering various spy actions of the PRC in relation to the states of the Asia-Pacific region, says that Huawei has erected a вЂњspecialвЂќ data processing center (DPC) in Papua New Guinea, which was planned to be used to intercept important government information. ASPI submitted the published report to the Australian authorities. At the time of publication of the material, Huawei did not comment on its content in any way.
Note that ASPI itself is a think tank founded in 2001 by the Australian government. The institute is considered independent, but at the same time receives funding from the Australian budget, and in part from the local Department of Defense.
Spy Data Center
The Huawei Data Center was built to store information from all the ministries of Papua New Guinea. ASPI said the company deliberately used outdated encryption software in it, which, coupled with a poorly performing firewall, allowed full access to government data. The report clearly states that the existing security settings would not allow detecting a rogue remote connection
Huawei has not yet provided evidence of its innocence in spying for the Chinese authorities
The data center was built in the capital of Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby, and went live in 2018. Its launch took place just before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, held in Port Moresby in mid-November 2018.
After the launch of the center, the entire government of Papua New Guinea planned to transfer the entire volume of used and archival state information to it. As a result, most of the ministries did not manage to do this - the government ran out of money to maintain the data center. This affected, among other things, the renewal of software licenses and the purchase of new batteries for uninterruptible power supplies.
Who sponsored the construction
The data center was not built with budget money from Papua New Guinea. A large Chinese bank, Exim Bank, issued a loan for its construction вЂ” the size of the loan was $53 million.
The data center project was only part of China's financial assistance to Papua New Guinea to digitize the country. In total, the PRC allocated $147 million for this. China also helped this country, with only 8.9 million inhabitants in 2020, to build a national broadband network, not without the participation of the tech giant.
In 2016, the authorities of Papua New Guinea signed a contract with Huawei for the laying of a submarine cable network with a total length of more than 5450 km and a capacity of 8 Tbit / s, connecting the country's 14 largest cities to provide local and long-distance communications, as well as international communications with the city of Jayapura in Indonesia.
According to the plans of the government of Papua New Guinea, the network was supposed to cover 55% of the population, and the achievement of the limit of its bandwidth was predicted not earlier than 2026-2030. In 2018, the Australian authorities asked Papua New Guinea to terminate the contract with Huawei but were refused. The network was handed over to the telecommunications company DataCo.
Potential agent of the Chinese government
Huawei is regularly linked to spying for the PRC authorities. US President Donald Trump speaks about this most often.
In the spring of 2018, he bluntly accused Huawei of espionage, stressing that it monitors American officials and even ordinary citizens, using telecom equipment and smartphones of its own production for this. In August 2018, Trump signed a law prohibiting US government agencies from using Huawei components and, at the same time, ZTE (a large Chinese IT giant) in their networks, and in the fall of 2018, he demanded that a number of countries stop using Huawei base stations due to the risk of surveillance.
Except for the Australian ASPI report, there was no evidence of Huawei's guilt in espionage at the time of publication. Nevertheless, at the end of March 2020, it became known that Huawei is indeed developing a tool that, in theory, allows it to track every Internet user вЂ” it creates the New IP protocol, which it offers as a replacement for TCP / IP.
New IP implements a special "disconnect" algorithm that allows you to block all data coming from the network to a specific address or from it to the network. This can be done at any time, and this means that Internet regulators will not only be able to instantly turn off unwanted resources but also block access to the Internet for specific people, literally calculating them by their IP address.
In early April 2020, it turned out that the latest flagship smartphone Huawei P40 can be used as a wireless microphone and eavesdrop on everything that happens in certain rooms or on the street within a Bluetooth range. This function is provided by wireless sound transmission technology.