Huawei working with critics to reduce hacking vulnerabilities

Chinese telecoms manufacturer Huawei is continuing its drive to restore confidence in its products by attempting to engage with security researcher and fierce critic, Felix Lindner.

Lindner has previously exposed a number of vulnerabilities in Huawei routers, across home Internet devices and multi-million pound equipment provided for telecoms companies. The discoveries have formed part of a wider distrust of the firm, with the likes of Australia and the US resisting Huawei’s advancement into their markets.

In an effort to reach out to critics and shore up weaknesses in its products, Huawei’s global cyber security chief John Suffolk has announced plans to send a team of engineers to talk to German hacker Lindner, reports Reuters. "We've very much taken on board Felix's views and you'll see over the coming period we've got a whole host of significant operations to deal with these issues," Suffolk said.

"I can fix the Felix issue in a few lines of code," he said. "But I'm interested in systemic change within Huawei."

The proposal marks Huawei’s latest move in an ongoing PR offensive to clear its name. Having been barred from participating in Australia’s high-speed broadband network project, the company last week invited third party scrutiny and collaboration by offering the Australian government complete access to its source code and equipment.

Its chairman of business in the country, John Lord, said, "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." The reference to the United States came after a congressional committee said Huawei was a security threat that could facilitate Chinese espionage projects.

Suffolk, who has already penned a whitepaper this year reassuring the industry about the security of Huawei’s practices, said the firm is now more willing to engage with researchers and that the forthcoming trip to Germany demonstrated its renewed commitment to openness.

Accepting criticism from Lindner and others that some of the company’s software has been poorly written and left vulnerable to exploitation, Suffolk said, "We like these comments, although sometimes you think to yourself that's a bit of a slap in the face."

"But sometimes you need a bit of a slap in the face to step back, not be emotive in your response, and say, what do I systematically need to change so over time...these issues begin to reduce?"