Huawei Chief Security Officer Insists Company Poses No Security Risks

The Trump administration remains concerned that Huawei threatens national security, with risks of surveillance and service disruption.
Posted at 6:59 PM, Feb 10, 2020

"I'm not saying trust Huawei. I'm not saying trust China. I'm saying that the old measures of trust are no longer good enough."

Huawei is China’s largest telecommunications manufacturer and it’s looking to build 5G networks in the United States. But President Donald Trump and his administration say that doing business with Huawei means risking surveillance, economic espionage, and communication service disruptions. 

"It's much simpler not to do any business with Huawei, so we're not doing business with Huawei," President Donald Trump told reporters last year.

Andy Purdy, who joined Huawei as Chief Security Officer for the U.S. after working in the White House and the Department of Homeland Security, minimized those threats. He told Newsy that the U.S. is harming Americans more than Huawei.

As an American, do you think these are legitimate concerns -- surveillance, economic espionage? 

"Well, I think when you look at the overall picture, the geopolitical balance, I think it's important to make sure that America gets the benefits of the best technology in the world and that you can make sure that you can address the security risks," Purdy said.

Are you saying this as a Huawei representative or as an American?

"I'm saying this as an American because fundamentally I was hired to do what I've been able to do, which is to promote a safer cyberspace," Purdy said.

Huawei has insisted it isn’t connected to or influenced by the Chinese government, even after a 2017 intelligence law gave authorities in China the power to access information from institutions under the guise of national security.

How can you guarantee that the Chinese state won't put pressure on Huawei? 

"We can put in place measures that demonstrate that we have not accessed any data that we're not authorized to access or that we've sent it to anybody."

Purdy went on to say, "You can have systems where you use specially configured laptops, which we do, so that every keystroke is logged and recorded. So you can fully reconstruct those sessions and you have great visibility in the telecom operators so you can prove that you haven't accessed data you're not supposed to access."

Purdy says that there are other measures that protect customers from unauthorized equipment updates, and ways to check for security vulnerabilities. But a tech expert recently found a backdoor -- a remote debugging and management tool -- in Huawei video recorders and security cameras. 

It comes after the UK made a deal with Huawei to build limited parts of its 5G network -- a decision that the Trump administration rebuked.

"We just don’t believe that utilizing the assets, the technology of Huawei, is consistent with the security or privacy interests of the UK, of the United States," Vice President Mike Pence told CNBC.

"What I'm tired of is people that are unwilling to listen to what I say, and I'm tired of the fact that the U.S. is focusing on hurting Huawei," Purdy said.

But back in 2012, Congress issued a report. It said that there was suspicion that Huawei was tied to the Chinese state. So it's not that this is necessarily only to do with the Trump administration. 

"Well, there's no question that the concerns of the United States government leadership, both parties, have very great concerns about U.S.-China relations, of the actions and conduct of China," Purdy said.