Sights Shift onto Huawei: AIVD Warns of Cyber Espionage

Sights Shift onto Huawei: AIVD Warns of Cyber Espionage

On Thursday, the Dutch Intelligence Agency (AIVD) cautioned the industry of a state-backed cyber-espionage threat.

According to the AIVD, the Netherlands was susceptible as an operational hub of members of telecoms and human rights groups collectively.

AIVD released a report as European states, the Netherlands included, reevaluate their 5G networks’ safety stance.

Recently, international speculations involving Chinese tech company Huawei, in correlation with threats of cyber and national security, arose.

Huawei, to address the situation, denied the allegations and reassured the public that its products do not post any risk.

The report from AIVD listed several examples without having to mention the European states involved.

“Russia, China, and Iran are examples of states with an offensive cyber-program,” the AIVD said in the report.

“In one instance, a certain state strove to silence and spy on former citizens that had immigrated to the Netherlands … making the victims feel unsafe and restricted.”

According to the report, AIVD was also knowledgeable of instances of states’ infiltration at sabotage attempts.

However, spokeswoman Femmy Barends defensively said that the agency couldn’t relay more specific information than what was already stated.

“What we want to do is raise awareness and underline how large the threat is,” she explained.

Last year, the Dutch government denounced Russian agents who were caught in their attempts to hack the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Following this, Royal KPN NV, Netherland’s biggest telecom company, suffered a network outage which lasted for long Monday hours. As a result, the company’s emergency numbers were rendered out of reach.

Two days after, the country’s Advisory Council on International Affairs advised the Dutch government to not exclude Huawei as a supplier totally.

As a company which relies heavily on Huawei for network equipment and billing infrastructures, KPN NV said it still has plans to utilize Huawei radio towers, which it describes as “non-core” equipment, in its 5g mobile networks.

Earlier in May, a newspaper publication reported that the agency was investigating Chinese spying via Dutch telecommunications network, including KPN.

Huawei Employees Involved in Military Research

New Huawei phone display.

Huawei employees conducted research projects of at least 10 in collaboration with Chinese armed forces personnel over the decade.

This was according to workers teamed up with members of various organs of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in projects involving artificial intelligence within radio communications.

“Huawei is not aware of its employees publishing research papers in their individual capacity,” said Huawei spokesman Joe Kelly.

He added that the company does not have any research and development partnerships with PLA-affiliated institutions.

“Huawei only develops and produces communications products that conform to civil standards worldwide and does not customize R&D products for the military,” Kelly reassured.

The Chinese tech company has been coming under immense pressure lately as U.S. accuses Huawei of espionage through its equipment.

Every router, switches, and other technology could pave the way for China to spy on US comms.

Last month, the U.S. government banned state-based firms from any trades involving Huawei.

Any transaction of telecommunications equipment from the company and its subsidiaries were restricted. 

However, the research projects are just a percentage of a few publicly disclosed studies.

A news publication said it culled the papers from previously published research and online databases mainly used for academics and industry research purposes.

“As everyone knows, Huawei is a private company that has developed on its own. There is no so-called Chinese military background,” China’s defense ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said, ensuring that the ministry has not made any statements regarding academic research.