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HELP ME OUT HERE, NERDS

By Pete Moore On January 14th, 2020

The US has warned the British government it “would be madness” to use Huawei technology in the UK’s 5G network.

A US delegation presented the UK with new evidence claiming to show security risks posed by using the Chinese firm.

US President Donald Trump has sought to pressure Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the issue.

A decision is expected this month on whether to allow Huawei to supply some “non-core” parts for the UK network.

I have my own suspicions as to why the government still seems willing to allow the Chinese communist regime build and operate large parts of the 5G network. Mainly it’s that Tories are complacent at their core and partial to heaps of cash. Of course it would be madness to allow those shifty buggers anywhere near the network, and you don’t need intelligence assessments to tell you that.

But what is it that the UK apparently requires which only Huawei has?

35 Responses to “HELP ME OUT HERE, NERDS”

  1. A bottomless pit of funds ?

  2. But what is it that the UK apparently requires which only Huawei has?

    Brilliant technical expertise at a low cost.

    The US government has made a lot of accusations against Huawei, but as far as I’m aware, they never proved any of them. I don’t think using Huawei for our 5G is any worse than using an American company.

    https://www.theverge.com/2013/6/6/4403868/nsa-fbi-mine-data-apple-google-facebook-microsoft-others-prism

  3. The delivery of the 5G network will largely be built by building on top of the preexisting 4G network. Huawei has already supplied a lot of that network. Excluding Huawei means starting from scratch.

    The technology offered by Huawei is also better than their competitors, Nokia and Ericsson.

  4. Because of his notoriously large popularity, one simply can not be seen to bend the knee for the turnip

  5. The same thing is probably in play with the Nordstream gas pipeline from Russia.

    That thing was probably going to get built no matter what, but now, after Trump has been so erratic, and after he has shown such disrespect to Europeans, they’d likely walk over broken glass barefoot twice to approve that pipeline again.

  6. In that case rip out the Chinese parts of the 4G network and start from there. Huawei does whatever the Chinese Communist Party orders it to do. The idea of allowing them to supply and own significant parts of the 5G network is absurd.

  7. Which will cost a couple of billion, but it will also delay the roll-out of 5G by 18 months which would cost the economy an estimated £7 billion. If it has to be done for security purposes then so be it. But before its done you have to make damn sure you need to do it.

  8. Johnson has made it clear that the decision has already been made in favour of the Chinese option, not least because there is no immediate alternative and immediate is where it’s at, as a couple of helpful softball questions at PM questions today made clear.

    Fair play to the right-wing climate-lying Australian government. At least they got this decision right. They told the Chinese to multiply and go forth, despite the fact that China is their biggest export market for the coal they so love.

  9. “There were two obviously planted questions at today’s Prime Minister’s Questions. Both were clearly designed to help the government with its very tricky forthcoming decision on Huawei helping build some of the UK’s 5G infrastructure. Both pointed towards the government taking the decision in favour of Huawei, despite American entreaties to the contrary.”

    https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2020/01/hall-of-shame-this-weeks-pointless-questions-at-pmqs/

  10. Seamus –

    If the alternative is any Chinese role in 5G then it needs to be done. A few billion quid and 18 months is a tiny price to keep them out.

  11. The UK is a world leader in 5G technology. Abandoning Huawei means delays to that technology. So abandoning Huawei means abandoning the UK’s status as a world leader in 5G.

  12. Pete Moore,

    In that case rip out the Chinese parts of the 4G network and start from there. Huawei does whatever the Chinese Communist Party orders it to do. The idea of allowing them to supply and own significant parts of the 5G network is absurd.

    Chinese manufacturers and companies, including Huawei, supply a massive amount of the technology that the western world, including the UK purchases and uses.
    Stopping them supplying parts of the 5G network, is like shutting the stable door long, long after the horse has bolted.
    And as I’ve said before, Huawei I’ve not been implicated in anything dodgy.

    https://www.theverge.com/2019/5/23/18637836/trump-huawei-ban-explanation-trade-deal-national-security-risk

  13. Stopping them supplying parts of the 5G network, is like shutting the stable door long, long after the horse has bolted.

    Better late than never Dave. If 5G is held up for a year or two for the sake of future security then that’s what we should do. It’s the right decision now even if the line with Chinese tech should have been drawn a decade ago.

    But Johnson has made it clear that short-term rollout of 5G is the priority, so the wrong decision has already been made and Johnson will be long gone when the chickens come home to roost.

  14. There has been a lot of hot air about the threat of Chinese tech to future security. In reality I’m not convinced by the case made. Intelligence experts have indicated that it is possible to design a system architecture in which the core is protected from interference, even if Huawei have built large sections of the remaining network.

    So allowing Huawei to supply non-core parts of the network seems to be both secure and financially prudent.

  15. But why take the risk? Nokia is working on a 5G alternative to Huawei and the Australians are prepared to wait for it.

  16. Because not taking the risk will a) increase the cost of developing the network and b) reduce the economic benefits of the network. If it was genuine security risk (and was identified as such by intelligence experts) then it would be worth the £10 billion or so in extra cost or reduced benefits. But the idea of wasting that money when the risk isn’t real is insane.

  17. Peter.

    Better late than never Dave. If 5G is held up for a year or two for the sake of future security then that’s what we should do. It’s the right decision now even if the line with Chinese tech should have been drawn a decade ago.

    But the thing is, it is too late. We’re buying more and more tech from China. Most of the smart televisions, tablets, phones and computers we buy now contain mostly Chinese components and firmware. If they’re going to spy on us through our technology, (and I’m not saying that they would), then they could do that quite easily.
    In all honesty, the components they’re going to supply for the 5G network would be the least of our worries.

  18. Seamus, well said mate.

  19. Cheers Dave, likewise.

    Peter,

    As Dave points out there is already substantial Chinese tech in the western world. And I would probably say they are willing to use it to spy on us (as are many other tech firms – including the US firms). So if it was purely a security thing then the UK would be banning American tech from the UK market as well (and probably tech from every other country on the planet).

    In reality the US-led efforts to exclude Huawei from western markets is nothing more than another front in The Donald’s trade war with China.

  20. But the thing is, it is too late. We’re buying more and more tech from China.

    So we might as well roll over now and become a satellite state? Tough on Hong Kong but WTF, cheap tech from China takes precedence over all moral or ethical or security considerations.

    The Chinese regime is easily the biggest threat to the west and what used to be called western values. It is carrying out a holocaust against its Uyghur minority. But it now has millions of useful fools and bought and paid for fellow-travellers in the west, so it’s probably on a home run even if it pulls a Tianamen mark 2 bloodbath in Hong Kong.

  21. So if it was purely a security thing then the UK would be banning American tech from the UK market as well

    The US is an ally or at least a friend. China is neither and never will be.

  22. So we might as well roll over now and become a satellite state?

    No Peter that’s not what I’m saying at all. What I’m saying is there’s no point going to all this expense and inconvenience, and selectively banning technology. That isn’t going to help us at all. We need to be vigilant, or rather or intelligence services do.

  23. We will just have to disagree Dave. In my view the “expense and inconvenience” of securing the 5G network from a totalitarian foreign enemy would be a price worth paying, even if it meant a delay of a few years. But Johnson is on your side on this issue so it’s already a done deal. As usual, short-term political considerations outweigh all else.

  24. “securing the 5G network from a totalitarian foreign enemy”

    Securing it against them doing what exactly?

    If you are thinking of something like eavesdropping etc, it is a normal assumption in security design that the network is untrusted. As long as you can trust the endpoints (e.g. the phone in your hand, among other things), it is in principle possible to construct highly secure channels on a completely open network. Which again is the assumption security professionals make, i.e. that the adversary has total access to the network, can eavesdrop messages, perform traffic analysis, delete them, reorder them, record and replay them, etc.

    Hence the constant demands from various US govt agencies to weaken encryption, provide a back door etc., for things like iMessage and whatsapp, which encrypt end to end make wiretaps irrelevant (in theory at least – in practice people cock up the implementation of these things all the time – e.g. see https://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/Papers/satan.pdf for some examples).

    The only thing that cannot be protected against using mathematics even in principle is denial of service, e.g. the Chinese could in theory build in something which allowed the whole network to be shut down remotely. It would be impossible to detect such a thing by inspection of the components or testing. You’d only know about it when it happened. The only solution for that (assuming you don’t trust the manufacturers) is to have some kind of independent fallback.

  25. So there’s nothing to worry about Frank. The USA and Australian security services are total tech muppets and the UK has got this one right.

    Good to know.

  26. Peter,

    “So there’s nothing to worry about Frank. The USA and Australian security services are total tech muppets and the UK has got this one right.”

    If you say so. I certainly haven’t said that. I am asking you.

    What exactly have the USA and Australian security services said the concern is?

  27. Frank

    I’m not remotely at your techie level but I do understand the concept of the Trojan Horse and for me it comes down to who do you believe. I totally distrust the Chinese regime and would prefer to believe what the Australians and Americans are saying about the potential threat from Huwaie, which at the end of the day is a Chinese government company, as are they all in the Middle Kingdom.

  28. Peter,

    I don’t trust the Chinese nor Huawei either. The only point I am making is that it is weird to trust the network no matter who makes it. The more usual idea is not to trust anybody or anything that you don’t have to trust, but especially not the network.

    Looking around I see that the Australians are saying that one concern is that the power infrastructure will rely on 5g, so they are worried about things like it being shut down, they are not concerned about things like privacy.

    To me the root of that problem is then that the power network relies on 5g, it shouldn’t. It should be able to operate if 5g goes down for any reason, including accident and incompetence. And if 5g is supposed to be highly available then it in turn shouldn’t rely on any one manufacturer, and so on.

    If you look at the current Internet, it is run by multiple organisations and people in countries around the world and was designed not only under the assumption that you shouldn’t have to trust any of them but that it should be able to function even under a nuclear attack. When you access the network you may be doing it via Starbucks or some hotel network, it doesn’t and can’t mean you have to trust them. And there’s almost certainly already something from Huawei involved from time to time when you access the network now.

    Nowadays we are even more paranoid and consider the threat that our own governments will try to gain access to the network. Hence the news stories over things like iMessage and WhatsApp, which are intended to be secure even if the govt has wiretaps in the Internet data centres and so on.

  29. Frank. Good posts. I totally agree mate.

  30. Peter,

    We will just have to disagree Dave. In my view the “expense and inconvenience” of securing the 5G network from a totalitarian foreign enemy would be a price worth paying, even if it meant a delay of a few years. But Johnson is on your side on this issue so it’s already a done deal. As usual, short-term political considerations outweigh all else

    Fair enough mate. I’m just falling back on my 30 years expertise in IT to form an opinion on this. I’ve been heavily involved in banking, retail, communications and data warehousing, I designed and built many of them. So I know quite a bit about our existing IP infrastructure, how it’s designed and who supplied it. Which is why I know it would be a complete waste of time as well as enormously expensive to remove Chinese involvement from one tiny part of our IT systems.

  31. Agreed dave
    Who cares anyway if they spy on me they’ll see guardian newspapers boxes of alpen and sandals old and new . They may well conclude
    ” We got our selves a lib lab lefty luvvie”
    But look at my face ” am I bovvered”
    Colm is well in the frame too 🥳 lol

  32. When I worked in IT, Dell was a major supplier of hardware to companies and the UK government. Over the years more and more of the components Dell used came from China. in fact Dell even started manufacturing computers in China.
    if Trump and the Australian government are serious about removing Chinese technology then they might want to look at the Amish way of life. 😁

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2012/01/06/dell-starts-making-computers-in-western-china-to-help-profit-margin/#ae7d5152e517

  33. Kurt

    Who cares anyway if they spy on me they’ll see guardian newspapers boxes of alpen and sandals old and new.

    Don’t worry mate the Chinese aren’t spying on you. The UK intelligence services are spying on you. The Chinese spy on the UK intelligence services. 😁

  34. The Chicoms aren’t worried about you.

    They might like some information from your high tech or other companies though.

  35. Frank and Dave

    I take your points and my attitude to Huawei is no doubt conditioned by my hatred of the Chines junta.

    I have decided to boycott all Chinese products wherever possible and started last night with a wireless mouse in Currys. I had a Chinese one in my hand but read the label and changed it to one made in Germany by HP (same price). The problem is when you buy online there is no easy way that I know of to identify where the product is made.