Huawei’s chief information security officer (CISO) – and former UK government CIO – John Suffolk has raised questions about Cisco and Juniper’s role in US government cyber snooping.
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Writing on his personal blog, Suffolk (pictured) speculated about the two US networking companies potentially being involved in spying against China and other countries, in the light of the revelations about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) Prism programme to track electronic communications.
Huawei has been banned from providing its networking equipment to the US government because of allegations of links to the Chinese military, but Cisco and Juniper are big suppliers to Chinese organisations.
Suffolk wrote: “The global ramifications of this initial revelation [about Prism] have not really started yet. I have already seen questions about if this is what Google, Yahoo and Microsoft do, what do Cisco and Juniper do?
"Do they spy on China and every other country for the NSA and USA Gov? They run much of China's telecommunications infrastructure; it is therefore right for people to assume that they have followed the American model that American technology companies are an extension of the American state and are using their technology to send everything back to America.”
He continued: “Congress said that Huawei should not be allowed into America, so based on all of these revelations, and there will be many more on America, should all other governments ban American technology companies, especially Cisco and Juniper given their position in critical infrastructures?”
The UK government has backed Huawei, which is a major supplier to BT. The Chinese firm has promised to spend £1.2bn in investment and procurement in the UK over the next five years.
Speaking at Huawei’s summer party in Whitehall, minister for universities and science David Willetts – appointed by prime minister David Cameron to be Huawei’s key government contact – said he “recognised the very important contribution that Huawei makes to the British economy”.
Willetts’s comments came just a week after Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) issued a report investigating the security implications of awarding BT infrastructure contracts to the Chinese networking supplier.
“In this context, the alleged links between Huawei and the Chinese state are concerning,” the ISC said in its report.
Suffolk joined Huawei in 2011, having worked in the civil service for seven years, holding the position of chief information officer and senior information risk owner from 2006.
“America should open up its telecommunications market to Chinese companies as China does for American technology companies – there really are no excuses,” wrote Suffolk.