Huawei opens a new EU cybersecurity transparency centre

6 Mar 2019

Image: alexeynovikov/Depositphotos

Amid allegations of security risks from the US, it seems Huawei is trying to alleviate concerns in Europe.

Over the past year, the US has led an attack on Chinese telecoms equipment giant Huawei based on alleged spying charges. This has led to a number of countries and companies banning the use of Huawei’s equipment or at least rethinking the use of it while investigations are ongoing.

On top of these spying allegations, the US also hit the company with a barrage of criminal charges at the end of January 2019, include bank fraud, obstruction of justice and theft of technology.

However, a number of telecoms companies and governments have since stated their plans to stick with Huawei, including Ireland’s largest telco, Eir.

Now, the Chinese tech giant appears to be firing back at the US, first by opening a new cybersecurity transparency centre in Brussels to reinstate support in the EU.

Trust in cybersecurity a major challenge

In a statement released by Huawei yesterday (5 March), the company said that trust in cybersecurity is a major challenge that the world faces in the digital era. Deputy chair Ken Hu said: “Trust needs to be based on facts, facts must be verifiable and verification must be based on common standards. We believe that this is an effective model to build trust for the digital era.”

The new cybersecurity transparency centre seems to be a direct response to the allegations levelled against the company as the functions largely relate to building trust with EU leaders and increasing transparency.

The new Brussels centre aims to showcase Huawei’s own end-to-end cybersecurity practices in areas including 5G, internet of things (IoT) and cloud. According to the company, it will facilitate communication between Huawei and what it describes as “key stakeholders on cybersecurity strategies”. The centre will also provide a product security testing and verification platform, and will be open to customers and independent third-party testing organisations.

Huawei goes on to say in its statement that it has placed cybersecurity and user privacy protection at the top of its agenda. “Huawei’s approach to cybersecurity is ‘security or nothing’.”

It appears the Chinese giant is not going for the subtle approach when appealing to EU leaders in a bid to dismiss the spying allegations against it.

Battle lines drawn

While bigging up its investment in security and privacy might sound heavy-handed, it might be a very necessary step.

While US allies such as the UK and Germany have not bowed to pressure to ban the use of Huawei technology, the US is fighting hard to block the company at every turn.

In fact, while the US was offering additional aid in return for shunning Huawei tech, it seems to now be taking a firmer approach. Last month US secretary of state Mike Pompeo warned that the US would not work alongside countries or allies that used Huawei equipment in 5G networks.

It’s clear that neither the US nor Huawei have any plans to back down. Whether the new cybersecurity centre in Europe will successfully alleviate fears around the company’s security remains to be seen.

Huawei logo on the wall of the server room. Image: alexeynovikov/Depositphotos

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic