Under-fire Huawei offers access to hardware and source code

Besieged telecoms giant Huawei has offered the Australian government unfettered access to its source code and equipment in a bid to allay fears over security risks associated with the company and its products.

The move was announced by John Lord, chairman of Huawei’s Australian business, who criticised the company’s PR efforts and said work needed to be done to improve its reputation, reports Reuters. Lord told the National Press Club in Australia that the security concerns were unfounded and a consequence of the company being caught in the crosshairs of a "trade conflict" between the US and China.

The firm’s trustworthiness and the safety of its networking equipment have been called into question in the US, with the House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee declaring that Huawei, and compatriot ZTE, should be frozen out of the American market. A separate White House investigation refuted Congress’s suggestion that the companies were an espionage threat to the US, but did echo concerns over the programming of their equipment, claiming it was too easy to hack.

Huawei has repeatedly defended its conduct and technology, but Lord admitted it "has done a very poor job of communicating about ourselves and we must take full responsibility for that."

The chairman continued, "Huawei has a duty to set the record straight, to dispel the myths and the misinformation. We sincerely hope that in Australia, we do not allow sober debate on cyber security to become distorted the way it has in the US."

Some industry experts, including those ITProPortal spoke to at the recent RSA security conference in London, believe fears surrounding the company in the US may indeed be overstated. Huawei’s founder and president Ren Zhenfei has worked in China’s People Liberation Army, and other state connections within the firm have raised suspicion in the States. But more than one security insider expressed relative bemusement over the worries, citing the numerous other business dealings in the US involving Chinese suppliers with links to the government.

The Australian cyber-security centre mentioned by Lord, which will open up Huawei’s equipment for scrutiny, may go some way in clearing the company’s name. Currently the second largest telecoms equipment manufacturer in the world, Huawei was this year barred from participating in Australia’s $38 billion high-speed broadband network

A similar cyber-security project was established in the UK by Huawei in 2010 and the firm now enjoys thriving business in Britain.