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Chinese company to check spy software for India!

Last updated on: June 30, 2011 17:51 IST

Chinese company to check spy software for India!

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Amid security concerns, India has decided to conduct testing and certification of software and hardware of all foreign telecom companies and has initiated the process with Huawei of China.

Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said the decision had been taken in view of the fact that 70-80 per cent of telecom equipment are imported and have been deployed largely by the private service providers.

In order to perform 'testing' on recent generation of telecom hardware being manufactured world over, the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore was entrusted with the job to set up a lab at an estimated cost of Rs 60 crore (Rs 600 million) of which Rs 50 crore (Rs 500 million) would be funded by the government.

Earlier, the Indian government had banned telecom equipment from Chinese manufacturers like Huawei suspecting spy software embedded in the gadgets.

Onkar Singh, PTI and agency inputs

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Image: Huawei staff at global headquarters in Shenzhen.

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"It is shocking that the Indian government has chosen a Chinese company with a suspicious past to help India ferret out spy software hidden in imported telecom gear, which virtually means becoming a clearing house for all imported telecom gear," Tarun Vijay, MP and national spokesperson, Bharatiya Janata Party said.

The IISc had simultaneously approached several vendors including Cisco, Juniper, Huawei from the US, Europe and Asia to share internal details of their telecom equipment like detailed design document and internal architecture which are vital for detailed testing.

"Huawei responded proactively before other vendors and hence requisite MoU got signed on June 15 between the IISC and Huawei," Sibal said while rejecting the apprehensions that the government has collaborated with Huawei to provide documentation, expertise, methods and standards for studying telecom equipment.

In 2005, India had blocked Huawei from supplying equipment to India's national network, BSNL.

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Image: Tarun Vijay, MP and national spokesperson, Bharatiya Janata Party.

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"We are not collaborating with any company to set up our testing laboratory," he said while making it clear that all the foreign vendors will have to share their architecture for India to develop its own security protocol.

In case of any breach of security, the service providers and vendors would be held responsible and it may lead to cancellation of their licences and imposition of hefty penalties.

He also clarified that the Department of Telecom (DoT) has full support from the Ministry of Home Affairs over this project.

In order to set up domestic testing facility, the IISc had run a pilot project for Center for Telecom testing and Security Certification.

"It may be understood that Huawei is not helping IISc Bangalore to set up any lab as the institution set up the same as part of the pilot project, where in all equipment and software are theirs," Sibal added.

Meanwhile, in 2010 the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had insisted on canceling the rest of the Huawei contract with BSNL and questioned the dubious links of several top BSNL officers with Chinese firms.

Huawei is the largest networking and telecommunications equipment supplier in China and the second-largest supplier of mobile telecommunications infrastructure equipment in the world after Ericsson.

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Image: Kapil Sibal.

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"Right now, we can conduct A level tests. The second and third level tests would be possible in next two or three years. But there are seven stage tests that we need to conduct under the government's observation to provide testing and security certification. We are patriots and are not endangering the security of the country as is being spread by a news channel," Kapil Sibal said.

It is feared that Huawei may have links with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China as its founder was a former PLA officer.

"A Chinese firm being allowed to tie up with the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc) for testing imported telecom gear shows that the UPA government is not serious about security issues and is unashamed in helping a company of the country that continues to help militarily Pakistan despite our strong objections," Tarun Vijay said.

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Image: R and D Center at Huawei Global Headquarters in Shenzhen.

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In May 2010, security agencies in India became suspicious of Huawei's activities, after learning that part of Huawei's Bangalore R&D office building was off limits to Indians.

Soon after, Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei said it was willing to cooperate with the government to have its facility inspected.

The company clarified that Indian employees are allowed to enter any part of the centre.

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Image: Huawei research staff performing routine maintenance.

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In May 2010, security agencies in India became suspicious of Huawei's activities, after learning that part of Huawei's Bangalore R&D office building was off limits to Indians.

Soon after, Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei said it was willing to cooperate with the government to have its facility inspected.

The company clarified that Indian employees are allowed to enter any part of the centre.

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Image: Research center at Huawei Global Headquarters in Shenzhen.

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Telecom equipment from Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE were banned till the companies agreed to provide the embedded source code if necessary.

Alarmed by security concerns on malware being passed with telecommunications equipment, the Department of Telecommunications has decided to develop a safety certification regime for all imported equipment.

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Image: Huawei engineers at work.

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The Chinese company will offer expertise methods and standards for studying and filtering imported telecom equipment as none of the Indian companies manufacture the entire range telecom equipment or are willing to partake in this security exercise.

Huawei says it is willing to work with all governments, customers and partners to jointly cope with security threats and challenges from cyber security.

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Image: Main entrance of the testing center at Huawei Global Headquarters in Shenzhen.

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"Huawei will set up regional security certification centers if necessary. These certification centers will be made highly transparent to local governments and customers, and Huawei will allow its products to be inspected by people authorized by local governments to ensure the security of Huawei's products and delivery service, says the Huawei cyber security statement.

China's Huawei Technologies will work with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) to test all imported mobile handsets and equipment for built-in malicious software.

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Image: Huawei staff at the exhibition hall in Shenzhen.

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Founded in 1987, Huawei has grown from a $5,680 small company to a global company with a sales volume of over $20 billion with business presence in over 140 countries.

Huawei set up its R&D operations in India in 1999 by establishing its centre in Bangalore. Globally, the company owns 17 R&D centres, with 40,000 engineers.

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Image: Huawei R and D staff performing routine maintenance.

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