Displaying items by tag: Security

Two of the UK’s largest airports have invested in multi-million pound anti-drone systems, after an incident at Gatwick in December brought flights to a standstill.

Both London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports confirmed they have purchased high-tech systems to protect themselves from potential drone attacks.

It follows three days of chaos at Gatwick in December, after a reported drone sighting caused mass disruption and grounded nearly 1,000 flights during the busy Christmas period.

Flights were resumed after the British Army brought in Drone Dome equipment; reportedly manufactured by Israeli defense contractor Rafael, which allows operators to jam a drone’s radio signals and allow it to land safely. It is believed several airports have purchased their own ‘military-grade anti-drone apparatus’ to prevent future incidents which will provide a “similar level of protection,” after the army withdrew its equipment on January 3rd.

On December 19th, an airport security officer at Gatwick had witnessed two cross-shaped drones, flying over the south perimeter road with flashing lights. The sightings caused three days of flight cancellations, with over 140,000 passengers affected by the standstill; the biggest disruption since the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud in 2010.

Two people were arrested after the incident in December, but as of yet no one has been charged.  

In July 2018, the UK government passed a law that banned drones from flying above 400ft and within 1km of an airport boundary, because of fears they could cause damage to aircraft windows during take-off and landing.  

Published in Gadget

US presidential hopeful blasts ZTE

Written on Sunday, 06 January 2019 10:04

Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE may well have had draconian measures that had crippled the company lifted by the US Department of Commerce following an intervention by President Donald Trump, but the narrative that ZTE is a threat to national security is refusing to subside.

US presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren became the latest politician to take aim at the telecoms behemoth and strongly criticized US senator Joseph Lieberman for serving as a lobbyist for the powerful Chinese vendor.

The ability for Republicans and Democrats to work together to form new policies and legislation in the US Senate and House of Representatives has been at an all-time low during the Trump administration.

The decision by the US to ban ZTE and Huawei from being involved in the rollout of 5G networks has drew bipartisan approval with both Republicans and Democrats voicing their concerns that both companies close association to the Chinese government was a huge threat to domestic security.

Warren, who announced she’d be seeking the Democratic nomination for the US Presidential election in 2020, denounced the US senator for acting as a lobbyist for the Chinese telecommunications behemoth on Twitter.

Warren tweeted, “ZTE is a giant foreign telecoms company that’s close with the Chinese government. They’ve violated serious US sanctions in Iran and North Korea. Their lobbyists keep blocking accountability. And today former senator Joseph Lieberman joined them. Should that be legal? No.”

Warren is an outspoken politician and is known for being a firebrand. She has faced the wrath of US President Donald Trump who has repeatedly ridiculed her claims that she was Native American.

She said that there should be a lifetime ban on members of congress working as lobbyists to make sure they only serve the public. Warren added, “We need a ban on foreign lobbying so countries like China, Russia and Saudi Arabia have to conduct their foreign policy out in the open.”

Bloomberg reported that Lieberman, who was a vice presidential nominee in 2000, began working for ZTE in November. According to a lobbying registration form submitted to the US Senate, he is conducting an assessment of the concerns members of the US Congress, the executive branch and US businesses have about national security risks around ZTE products.

The form also states Lieberman will not be advocating for ZTE, and he had been appointed in the interest of transparency and caution.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Huawei’s rotating chairman Ken Hu has pleaded with the governments of countries who have banned the Chinese telecommunications behemoth from becoming involved in the rollout of 5G networks, to produce evidence that implicates Huawei as a serious security threat.

Huawei’s CEO robustly defended its security record and expressed his disappointment that countries banned the Chinese vendor before affording them the opportunity to engage in dialogue which would’ve allowed them to take action, or respond to the allegations that it was a threat to domestic security.

In a press conference held at its HQ in Shenzhen, Hu said, “When it comes to security, we need to let the facts speak for themselves. Huawei’s record on security is clean. In over 30 years, the company has never had a serious cyber security issue or seen any evidence showing its equipment is a security threat. We have a solid track record.”

New Zealand and Australia have banned Huawei from their 5G projects, whilst it is also believed that the UK, Germany, Japan and South Korea are also considering the possibility of preventing Huawei from becoming involved in their 5G rollout plans.

However, Hu acknowledged that the vendor needed to be proactive with governments and customers, but stressed that they had already been doing this, and were willing to take additional steps in an effort to not be locked out of 5G programs in the west.

Hu added, “We will not relax. As technology becomes more complex and networks become more open, we will continue to increase our investment in security related efforts.”

For example, Huawei plans to launch a security centre in Brussels in Q1 2019 as part of a longer-term plan to expand cooperation with other governments around the world, such as Canada and the UK. In addition to this, it will invest $2 billion over the next five years to improve its software engineering processes to be better prepared for the future.

The recent high-profile arrest of the company’s CFO in Canada has reignited trade tensions and diplomatic relations between the US and China. However, despite the controversies and turmoil, Huawei is targeting a record of $100bn in total revenue for the year, and has secured more than 25 commercial 5G contracts and shipped more than 10,000 5G base stations.

Hu declined to comment on the ongoing situation with Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou because it was an ongoing case, but he did reiterate that the company is confident in its trade compliance measures along with the judicial systems in Canada and the US.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Experts claim Huawei suspicions are unfounded

Written on Thursday, 20 December 2018 08:27

A top German IT watchdog has refuted claims that Huawei could be using their equipment to spy for Beijing.

Head of Germany's Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), Arne Schoenbohm has spoken skeptically of the boycott, after the agency examined Huawei equipment and was unable to uncover any ‘reliable findings’ to support espionage claims.

BSI experts - who oversee computer and communications security for Germany -believe the lack of evidence is not enough to warrant a global ban.

"For such serious decisions like a ban, you need proof," Schoenbohm pointed out.

 Chinese phone giant Huawei has faced international scrutiny over the past year, with Western countries growing increasingly wary of the Chinese phone maker’s involvement in telecommunication infrastructure. Pressure from the United States secret service to boycott Huawei equipment has led to a number of countries, including Japan and Australia, to exclude the phone giant in their rollout of 5G networks.

New Zealand’s largest carrier Spark had had plans to use the Huawei’s 5G equipment for their launch in July 2020, but was denied by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB). 
His comments follow the announcement that rival Chinese phone maker ZTE will cease to maintain mobile operator O2’s network in Germany – a subsidiary of Spain’s Telefonica – as of next year, amidst security fears.

BSI experts insist Huawei has nothing to hide, after the agency visited Huawei labs in Bonn, set up so customers can inspect products, including the source code of software.

Huawei models remain the most popular in Germany, with three of their main networks using the Chinese equipment.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Chinese telecom provider loses major European contract

Written on Monday, 17 December 2018 06:28

The Chinese telecom company will cease to maintain mobile operator O2’s network in Germany – a subsidiary of Spain’s Telefonica – as of next year.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Huawei denies collecting data from Facebook users

Written on Thursday, 07 June 2018 08:39

Chinese telecommunications vendor Huawei has vehemently denied that it collected data from Facebook users after the Silicon Valley social media colossus confirmed that it granted the Chinese smartphone manufacturer with access to user information.

Huawei has been deemed a threat to national security in the United States by a number of leading US intelligence officials and Republican congressman. The Chinese vendor has been subjected to intense scrutiny over the last few months, and this latest revelation by Facebook will only serve to heighten concerns over national security.

Facebook confirmed that Huawei along with several other companies was allowed to access Facebook data to get the world’s leading social network to perform on its smartphones. Following a fierce backlash in the US congress, Facebook mobile partnerships leader Francisco Varela has leapt to the defense of Huawei, saying that the information utilized by the Chinese vendor was stored on the device and not on Huawei’s servers.

Varela said, “Facebook along with many other US tech companies have worked with them and other Chinese manufacturers to integrate their services onto these phones. Given the interest from Congress, we wanted to make clear that all the information from these integrations with Huawei was stored on the device, not on Huawei's servers.”

A spokesperson for Huawei told AFP that it cooperated with Facebook as part of a concerted effort to improve user services, and strongly denied it collected or stored the data of users. In addition to this, it also rubbished claims it had any links to the Chinese government and dismissed fears in the US over national security.

The spokesperson said, “Like all leading smartphone providers, Huawei worked with Facebook to make Facebook's services more convenient for users. Huawei has never collected or stored any Facebook user data. Our infrastructure and computing products are used in 170 countries and we’ve worked hard to become a trusted ICT provider for our customers.”

US Senator Mark Warner, who is also vice-chairman of the senate select committee on intelligence, expressed his concern regarding the revelations by Facebook that Huawei had access to users’ data.

Warner said, “Concerns about Huawei aren't new. I look forward to learning more about how Facebook ensured that information about their users was not sent to Chinese servers."

Contracts with phone makers placed tight limits on what could be done with data, and "approved experiences" were reviewed by engineers and managers before being deployed - according to the social network.  Facebook said it does not know of any privacy abuse by phone makers who years ago were able to gain access to personal data on users and their friends. 

Published in Telecom Vendors

Huawei exec touts cloud services as growth area

Written on Thursday, 26 October 2017 12:04

Huawei exec touts cloud services as growth area

Chinese telecom equipment provider and smartphone maker Huawei aims to take on Amazon and Alibaba as a global provider of public cloud services, the company said in April. Edward Zhou, Huawei’s VP of Global Public Affairs, reiterated this to Active Telecom recently, saying Huawei can provide more trustworthy cloud services based on its legacy telecom experience.

Huawei used to provide cloud infrastructure for its customers but now also provides cloud services. In April this year, the company said it would expand cloud computing with a dedicated division, with the purpose of strengthening its public cloud offering, which involves shared data infrastructure, as opposed to dedicated infrastructure built for single customers.

“We believe we can provide more trustworthy cloud services based on our telecom background,” Mr. Zhou told Active Telecom. “Telecom services are very different from traditional IT services, and we draw upon this experience to build better, more reliable cloud services.”

Tailor-made cloud services are fundamental to Huawei’s offerings, Zhou said. “We make customizations based on our global version,” he said. Providing more security in its cloud services is also very important for Huawei’s customers today, Zhou added, because cloud is still a relatively new technology and Huawei needs to ensure that its customers are protected.

“Cybersecurity is a very hot topic for all countries and companies,” Mr. Zhou said. “Inside Huawei we have a very strong team dedicated to cybersecurity for our solutions and products – security is imbedded in these offerings. We believe high quality includes high security.”

Consultancy firm Gartner predicts the market for public cloud services to reach $383 billion by 2020 from $247 billion this year. Worldwide IT spending is projected to total $3.7 trillion in 2018, an increase of 4.3 percent from 2017 estimated spending of $3.5 trillion. By expanding into cloud computing, Huawei hopes to diversify away from its hardware focus and develop software-based revenue.

The company’s strategic focus will be on its telecom partners’ cloud transformation, Eric Xu, deputy chairman of Huawei’s board and one of three rotating chief executive officers, recently told Reuters. Xu reflected Zhou’s view that Huawei’s global network of telecom clients gives the firm a distinct advantage.

“Huawei as a brand is strong because it is not only about consumer smartphones. We have three different business groups: carrier, enterprise and consumer,” Mr. Zhou said, discussing the company’s future aspirations. “I think our strategy to build the brand revolves around quality – it is Huawei’s highest priority. We aim to deliver higher quality than other players in this market.”

Huawei has established its services in more than 170 countries around the world, aiming to become a “global iconic tech brand”. The company does face challenges, however, said Mr. Zhou. For example, Huawei often faces data protection rules and other regulatory barriers in some countries that it operates in. The company’s strategy is to follow the local rules and cater to local needs.

“We try to provide governments with expertise and knowledge about technology to support government initiatives,” Mr. Zhou said. “Many countries are talking about digital transformation and we have the technology and expertise to offer them support. We are very happy to contribute some of our value to governments pushing for change.”

Huawei’s broader vision, Zhou said, is to facilitate the Internet of Things (IoT) era, where everything will be connected by sensors. He said Huawei is a top investor in R&D (research and development) and focuses on bringing together the world's best intellectual resources to strengthen its innovation capability.

“Thanks to the emergence of new technologies including 5G and NB-IoT (Narrowband IoT), it will be easy to connect everything and create more value,” said Zhou. He added that the company also aims to support the development of cloud computing technologies – adding intelligence to cloud services.

“Everything will be connected and intelligent,” said Zhou. “That’s our larger vision.”

Published in Interviews

The White House has intervened in a business transaction between a Chinese-backed private equity firm and a US chipmaker. US President Donald Trump has blocked Canyon Bridge Capital Partners planned $1.3 billion acquisition of Lattice Semiconductor Corp. The decision has sent a clear message to Beijing that Washington will vehemently oppose any takeover deals that involve technologies that may have potential military applications. The bid by the Chinese-backed equity company was one of the largest ever attempted on the US microchip sector.

US regulators became more focused on the business activities Canyon Bridge were engaging in when it emerged that the firm was largely funded by capital from China’s central government and had indirect links to its space program. In addition to this, Canyon Bridge came across the radar of US defense officials when it became clear that company behind the Lattice acquisition bid was backed by the Chinese government – and this subsequently sparked severe security concerns.

Lattice Semiconductor Corp is headquartered in Oregon and makes chips known as field-programmable gate arrays, which enables companies to put their own software on silicon chips for different uses. The company publicly stated that it didn’t sell its chips to the US military anymore, unlike its two biggest competitors, Xilinx and Intel’s Altera.

It has been reported that President Trump stated in an executive order that Lattice and the Chinese-backed private equity firm shall take all steps necessary to fully and permanently abandon the proposed transaction within 30 days. Trump’s decision echoes the sentiments of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS), which is a body that scrutinizes deals for potential national security threats.

US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin issued a statement confirming that both the CFIUS and the President have assessed that the transaction between the two companies pose a risk to the national security of the United States, and furthermore can’t be resolved through mitigation. The US Treasury Secretary did highlight that the risk of national security was related to the potential transfer of intellectual property and the Chinese government’s direct involvement in the deal.

However, China has expressed their disappointment and concern regarding the decision made by the US President and the US Committee on Foreign Investment. Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said he respected the US was fully in within its rights to examine the security implications surrounding potential foreign investment, but he was disappointed by how the US had conducted itself during its investigation.

He said, “We believe conducting security examinations of investments in sensitive sectors is a country’s legitimate right, but it should not become a tool for advancing protectionism and we hoped that the United States could view Chinese firms’ acquisitions objectively and provide fair treatment to what was their “normal commercial behavior”. Lattice and Canyon Bridge released a joint statement on Wednesday declaring that they had terminated the proposed deal. Lattice also said it is committed to achieving profitable growth.

Published in Government

 Ericsson has endured a difficult number of years in the telecommunications market, but newly-appointed CTO Erik Ekudden has expressed his optimism moving forward – vowing that the Swedish vendor will focus on key trends they’ve identified such as ‘automation’. The CTO disclosed that the key trends were identified following intense discussions with Ericsson’s customers and its leadership team since his appointment on July 1st.

Ekudden believes that Ericsson is well-placed to deliver on some of the technology trends which have been established. However, he did concede that it must develop new skills and capabilities in conjunction with other key industry players in order to be in a position to capitalize on the remainder.

One of the key trends identified is providing an adaptable technology base by combining software and hardware. According to the executive Ericsson’s experience and nous ensures that it can improve the efficiency of networks and ultimately ‘lower costs’.

Other keys trends identified by Ericsson which were disclosed by Ekudden include the need to establish an advanced machine intelligence system - he claimed that the ecosystem for machine learning and AI platforms were maturing and that the Swedish telecommunications colossus was enhancing its operations in relation to the development of such network platforms.

However, it was in the area of ‘automation’ and IoT  which represents a great opportunity for Ericsson to assist its customer base in their ‘automation journey’ by offering better infrastructure and ultimately delivering an interaction between operations and networks which is much more intuitive and smooth.

Ekudden said, “Automation is a big theme among our customers. Ericsson is taking a leading role here, and we’ve got great experience in managed services and broader optimization capabilities. In addition to this, end-to-end security in IoT systems is crucial, and our goal is to establish what we call “hardware routes of trust” in every IoT device.”

However, the newly-appointed CTO stressed the importance of security and said it was imperative that it is considered when developing every new IoT device. He added, “It’s an architectural question, and it’s also about designing every node at a certain security level. This is something we take as a very important part of the products that we build on the network side.”

Published in Telecom Vendors

Canadian multinational firm BlackBerry has officially announced it has sold its messaging tools which can be used for encrypting phone calls and text messages to the US federal government – following an endorsement from the National Security Agency (NSA). BlackBerry confirmed that it received notification from the NSA’s National Information Assurance Partnership which reviews commercial technology products to see if they meet enhanced security standards for governments use.

There fear that eavesdroppers are listening in to government communications continues to rise, and has done so over the last number of years. In 2014, one of the first high-profile cases of calls being intercepted was an encrypted mobile phone conversation between a senior US State Department officer and the US ambassador to the Ukraine - the call was intercepted and subsequently leaked online.

BlackBerry is providing the NSA with messaging tools based on technology from Secusmart which is the start-up business the Canadian company acquired in 2014. The start-up had garnered international attention after it won the contract to secure German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone in the wake of allegations by a former US intelligence contractor that her phone had been hacked by the NSA.

However, the case into the alleged phone bugging was dropped in 2015, when German prosecutors declared it had not found enough substantial evidence to continue the investigation. BlackBerry has confirmed that its encrypted voice and text messaging products are by other government agencies in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa, although Germany remains its biggest customer.

US politics is currently rife with allegations of hacking with two separate investigations underway to determine if Russia played a role in the US presidential election, or if any of Trump’s team conspired with Russian authorities in relation to the election. The FBI and CIA both said it believed Russia was responsible for the e-mail hacking of Democratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton.

Published in Government
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