Report: NSA targeted Chinese tech giant Huawei

BERLIN (AP) — U.S. intelligence agencies hacked into the
email servers of Chinese tech giant Huawei five years ago, around the
time concerns were growing in Washington that the telecommunications
equipment manufacturer was a threat to U.S. national security, two
newspapers reported Saturday.
The National Security Agency began
targeting Huawei in early 2009 and quickly succeeded in gaining access
to the company’s client lists and email archive, German weekly Der
Spiegel reported, citing secret U.S. intelligence documents leaked by
former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The New York Times also published a
report Saturday about the documents.
Huawei objects to activities
that threaten network security, said William B. Plummer, the company’s
vice president of external affairs.
"Huawei has declared its
willingness to work with governments, industry stakeholders and
customers in an open and transparent manner, to jointly address the
global challenges of network security and data integrity," Plummer said
in an email. "The information presented in Der Spiegel and the New York
Times article reaffirms the need for all companies to be vigilant at all
times."
Among the people whose emails the NSA was able to read were Huawei president Ren Zhengfei, Der Spiegel
said.
The
operation, which Der Spiegel claims was coordinated with the CIA, FBI
and White House officials, also netted source codes for Huawei products.
One aim was to exploit the fact that Huawei equipment is widely used to
route voice and data traffic around the world, according to the report.
But the NSA was also concerned that the Chinese government itself might
use Huawei’s presence in foreign networks for espionage purposes, it
said.
In response to the Der Spiegel report, NSA spokeswoman Vanee
Vines said the agency doesn’t comment on specific alleged activities.
She reiterated the NSA’s position that its activities are aimed only at
"valid foreign intelligence targets in response to intelligence
requirements."
"In addition, we do not use foreign intelligence
capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf
of – or give intelligence we collect to – U.S. companies to enhance
their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line,"
Vines said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.
In
2012, the House Intelligence Committee recommended that Huawei be barred
from doing business in the U.S., citing the threat that its equipment
could enable Chinese intelligence services to tamper with American
communications networks.
In January, the company rejected a
previous Der Spiegel report claiming that its equipment was vulnerable
to hacking. The magazine had reported that the NSA was able to install
secret "back doors" in telecoms equipment made by Huawei and other
companies.
Der Spiegel’s latest report claims the NSA also
targeted top Chinese officials, such as former President Hu Jintao, as
well as ministries and banks.
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