According to a report by Bloomberg, Vodafone has revealed that it had found vulnerabilities in the wireless equipment provided by Huawei Technologies for the carrier’s Italian business back in 2011 and 2012. And even though Vodafone says the issues were resolved, the revelation could further damage the Chinese company’s reputation, accused of being capable of espionage for the Chinese government.
Citing Vodafone’s security briefing documents from 2009 and 2011, Bloomberg says that Vodafone identified hidden backdoors in the software that could have given Huawei unauthorized access to the carrier’s fixed-line network in Italy.
Documents show that the carrier asked Huawei to remove backdoors in its home internet routers in 2011 and received assurances from the supplier that the issues were fixed. However, further testing revealed that the security vulnerabilities remained, according to the publication.
In a statement, Huawei said it was made aware of historical vulnerabilities in 2011 and 2012 and they were addressed at the time. A company spokesman said the flaws in the equipment related to maintenance and diagnostic functions common across the industry, as well as vulnerabilities. “There is absolutely no truth in the suggestion that Huawei conceals backdoors in its equipment.”
Huawei has since expanded its relationship with Vodafone well beyond routers and is now its fourth-largest supplier behind Apple, Nokia, and Ericsson.
As for Huawei in Canada, the federal government is still reviewing whether or not to ban the Chinese company’s 5G equipment, a move already made by allies such as the United States and Australia.
The arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou last December in Vancouver–the daughter of the company’s founder–has sparked a diplomatic crisis between both countries. China has arrested and detained two Canadian men, while today sentencing a third to death, for his role in a drug operation. The country has also suspended the import license of two major Canadian canola exporters, putting billions of trade in jeopardy.