Threats emanating from Chinese telecom, surveillance equipment haunts global clients
Hong Kong, February 14 (ANI): The global clients of Chinese telecom and surveillance equipment are haunted by the penetration into the security apparatus and stealing of vital data from government departments, reported The HK Post.
Allegations on China regarding surveillance and espionage through various Chinese-made telecom and other tech gadgets are not new and despite rebuttal by the Chinese tech companies, their integrity towards client countries has always been in doubt, especially their connection with the Communist Party of China (CPC) and People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
Speaking recently on Australia’s national broadcaster ABC, the country’s Defence Minister Richard Marles revealed that Chinese-made security cameras would be removed from government buildings for fear of a breach of security.
“It’s important that we go through this exercise and make sure that our facilities are completely secure,” said Marles.
The minister said that removing Chinese-made cameras was crucial to make facilities “completely secure” and therefore, government officials have been instructed to find and remove all these cameras at military sites, reported The HK Post.
It follows similar moves in the United States and Britain, which have both taken measures to stop government departments from installing Chinese-made cameras at sensitive sites.
Australia is the latest entrant in the list of such countries after Britain acted in November last year due to fears that Chinese companies could be forced to share intelligence with Beijing’s security services.
According to official figures, security cameras were installed at more than 200 Australian government buildings including at least one run by the Department of Defence, reported The HK Post.
The cameras were made by companies Hikvision and Dahua, which have both been blacklisted in the United States. The US banned the import of surveillance equipment made by Hikvision and Dahua in November last year because it posed “an unacceptable risk to national security”.
In Britain, a group of 67 MPs and Lords called for the government to ban Hikvision and Dahua in July last year, following reports that their equipment had been used to spy on Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
In November, the UK banned the Chinese telecom and surveillance equipment companies because by law they are under obligation to share data with the Chinese government if the latter requests for the same.
A Hikvision camera caught former UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock kissing an aide in violation of Covid rules in June 2021, leading to his resignation. However, Hikvision described it as “categorically false” to paint the company as “a threat to national security,” reported The HK Post.
Moreover, the Biden administration banned approvals of new telecommunications equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies and ZTE in November 2022 alleging that they pose “an unacceptable risk” to US national security.”
It also banned the sale or import of equipment made by China’s surveillance equipment maker Dahua Technology, video surveillance firm Hangzhou, Hikivision Digital Technology and telecoms firm Hytera Communications, reported The HK Post.
Chinese companies pose a variety of threats including ransomware and data breaches apart from hacking and penetrating into important utilities’ communication infrastructure.
Huawei has been implicated in data breaches, internet censorship, and espionage in dozens of countries. FBI investigators discovered that the company’s equipment could intercept or disrupt communications related to the US military’s nuclear arsenal.
Potential backdoors have also been uncovered in products from other Chinese companies, such as Hickivision. The experts suggest that if the equipment is deployed in government networks, it could serve as possible entry points for hackers looking to damage public services, steal sensitive data, or on internal operations.
At present, 5G telecom equipment from China is also banned or kept under strict monitoring in many countries including the US, Australia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Romania, Sweden, Vietnam and Taiwan etc.
Even though many countries are using Chinese equipment for the development of their 5G network, suspicion of the Chinese companies has not lessened and they remain under strict vigilance and monitoring, reported The HK Post.
The Chinese involvement in 5G networks is seen with suspicion because cellular network equipment sourced from Chinese vendors may contain backdoors enabling surveillance by the Chinese government.
The fear arises because PRC laws make it mandatory for Chinese companies and individuals to assist the state intelligence agency in the collection of information whenever requested.
It is because of this reason that all members of the Five Eyes international intelligence alliance which includes Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States have declared that the use of Huawei telecommunications equipment, particularly in 5G networks, poses “significant security risks,” reported The HK Post. (ANI)