FCC Freaks Out About Huawei, But Ignores The Internet Of Broken Things

from the ill-communication dept

Despite a lack of public evidence proving Huawei spies on American citizens (the entire justifying cornerstone of the effort), the FCC this week just dramatically escalated the Trump administration's blackballing of Chinese telecom firms. In a fact sheet circulated by the agency, the FCC says it will vote in November on a new rule that would ban US companies from receiving taxpayer subsidies if they use Huawei, ZTE, or other Chinese gear in their networks. This could be followed later with additional rules requiring that companies rip Chinese gear from their networks and replace it with presumably US alternatives, the FCC says.

To hear FCC boss Ajit Pai tell it, the blackballing effort will protect US national security and protect us as we nobly endeavor to win the "race to 5G":

"When it comes to 5G and America’s security, we can’t afford to take a risk and hope for the best. We need to make sure our networks won’t harm our national security, threaten our economic security, or undermine our values. The Chinese government has shown repeatedly that it is willing to go to extraordinary lengths to do just that.

And Chinese law requires all companies subject to its jurisdiction to secretly comply with demands from Chinese intelligence services. As the United States upgrades its networks to the next generation of wireless technologies—5G—we cannot ignore the risk that that the Chinese government will seek to exploit network vulnerabilities in order to engage in espionage, insert malware and viruses, and otherwise compromise our critical communications networks. "

Again, while neither Huawei nor China are innocent angels by any measure, this blackballing effort continues to have some problems. One being that the United States, with its history of spying on Huawei and using AT&T to spy on everybody else, we're not exactly treading the moral high ground on this subject. But there's also plenty of questions as to whether these efforts are above board, and whether they'll have their intended impact.

One, public evidence still seems like it's an afterthought. An eighteen month investigation by the White House in 2012 (the last time we had a bout of hyperventilation on this subject) showed there was no evidence of Huawei actively using its gear to spy on Americans. Other data indicates that much of the pearl clutching here is driven by giants like Cisco who just don't want to compete with cheaper Chinese gear. That's not to say there's no legitimate security worries here, just that protectionism is playing a role. How much a role is hard to determine without public evidence of Huawei spying.

Even then, there's questions as to whether this kind of blackballing would even accomplish its stated objective without causing additional problems. A lot of smaller, more rural-focused US companies have stated they will be financially harmed by eliminating their access to cheaper Huawei gear. The $8.5 billion Universal Service Fund (USF) has already been under fire by the Trump administration, and further curtailing what gear companies operating on tight budgets face could constrain efforts to improve America's woefully mediocre broadband infrastructure, including the so-called "race to 5G."

Meanwhile, our cybersecurity pearl clutching seems inconsistent. We're imposing vast new complicated rules on China while ignoring basic election security improvements. And while Chinese gear in telecom networks results in no limit of consternation, nobody at the FCC seems all that concerned with the millions of cheap-ass Chinese-made IOT gear we're affixing to our home and business networks. That tech, replete with flimsy security and privacy, creates a wonderful opportunity for foreign countries like China to spy on American residents and industry through everything from their "smart" TV to internet-connected tea kettle, yet government is doing bupkis about it.

Which leads one to wonder how much of the blacklisting of companies like Huawei is rooted in genuine cybersecurity concerns, and how much is being waged as leverage in Trump's counterproductive trade war? How much is cybersecurity fear being exploited to the benefit of Cisco? It's not clear, which is why countries like Germany have balked at US requests and responded by saying they'll simply adhere to existing security standards and practices. If it's a provably insecure router or other piece of gear, it doesn't get put onto the network. A broader blackballing could prove to create more problems than it solves.

Filed Under: ajit pai, china, fcc, infrastructure, iot, security
Companies: huawei


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 6:24am

    Because China.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 6:57am

    "FCC says it will vote in November on a new rule that would ban US companies from receiving taxpayer subsidies"

    Right idea but for the wrong reason(s).

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    identicon
    Richard Bennett, 4 Nov 2019 @ 7:10am

    I hate you, Bode. I hate you so, so much. The fact that you exist and breathe oxygen makes me grit my teeth in righteous anger.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 7:12am

    The question is how much of the subsidiaries is worth sacrificing. Just comparing Cisco to Ubiquiti is significant price difference. Some very similar configured switches can cost 10x more for cisco. And I am not particularly impressed with Cisco. Have had more failures with their equipment then several other manufacturers.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 7:13am

    What they really mean is that if we give an NSL to Huawei then they will tell the Chinese government and expose our hypocrisy.

    The stronger argument is that they were exporting to Iran and North Korea. If they were pretending to adhere to the letter/spirit of the law they were sanctioned under that would have been the speech. However, the real reason does appear to be "because they will expose our hypocrisy" apparently.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 7:16am

    Cisco or Huawei... Which one is more likely to be corrupted by US government influence?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 8:09am

      Re:

      Clearly Cisco and because Huawei won't share, they are banned. They know what they have done to the other companies and therefor fear what is done to one they can't touch. The greatest trick though was convincing everyone they don't have Huawei compromised as well.

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  • identicon
    bob, 4 Nov 2019 @ 7:43am

    FTFY FCC.

    When it comes to 5G and America’s security, we can’t afford to take a risk and hope for the best. We need to make sure our networks won’t harm our national security, threaten our economic security, or undermine our values. So today the FCC has decided to come out against the FBI's plans to weaken encryption. We know that it's the only way to ensure America's security.

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  • identicon
    ANON, 4 Nov 2019 @ 8:09am

    Wrong Question

    The real question is why in a "free market" government subsidies should be such a big lever for the government against any company? If the overriding concern of a company is the money the government gives them rather than revenue from business, maybe then technically the companies are essentially under the control of the government. There's a name for that economic model.

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  • icon
    virusdetected (profile), 4 Nov 2019 @ 8:23am

    You're not paying attention...

    It's Ericsson that's taking over the U.S. telecom network (with plenty of assistance from the FCC). They operate the two databases that make the telecom network function: one for number portability and one that has the location of every switching facility and they operate the networks for Sprint and T-Mobile. They are the big winner in a Huawei ban. (As are the big telcos, because the 2,000+ small telcos will be forced out of business.)

    Meanwhile, the far bigger issue is that there are so many insecure devices in operation that worrying about backdoors in the switches is a diversion.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 10:34am

      Re: You're not paying attention...

      Interesting ... I wonder how much Ericsson stock is owned by those making policy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 8:34am

    Oh, the hypocrisy...!

    And irony. One need only look closely at nearly any piece of Cisco gear (and there's plenty of it on the surplus market) to find the 'Made in China' markings. Oh, it might say 'Designed in the USA' or some such, but the actual manufacturing will have been done somewhere in China.

    If our government is truly worried about foreign electronics makers spying on our citizens, tell me why an economic system which favors non-US based manufacturing is in place? Why have we moved huge amounts of JOB-CREATING industry out of our country completely?

    A friend of mine had an interesting theory about the whole Huawei flap. It may be pure conspiracy nuttiness, or it may have some grain of truth to it. Whatever the case, I'd like to share it.

    We already know the alphabet-soup intelligence agencies have, likely with the 'cooperation' of certain large networking equipment makers (coughCiscocough), replaced stock firmware with versions containing back doors such agencies can exploit, post-installation.

    How might our government react to a popular equipment manufacturer who outright refused to go along with any such thing, under any conditions? One who, perhaps, valued its reputation with its customers over anything else? (As a good manufacturer should).

    Who is to say Huawei isn't being blackballed because they told the NSA what they could do with their back-doored firmware, in no uncertain terms?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 8:52am

      Re: Oh, the hypocrisy...!

      I 100% believe that China will backdoor Huawei through a poisoned firmware update, just like the US does. Just because it's hypocrisy doesn't mean China is better.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 10:35am

      Re: Oh, the hypocrisy...!

      I'm not so sure that is ironic.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 1:49pm

      Re: Oh, the hypocrisy...!

      If our government is truly worried about foreign electronics makers spying on our citizens, tell me why an economic system which favors non-US based manufacturing is in place? Why have we moved huge amounts of JOB-CREATING industry out of our country completely?

      Labor is cheaper in China, they (now) have more manufacturing experience, and changing an entire economic system is hard. People have done cost estimates for manufacturing cellular phones in the USA, and gotten prices nobody would pay. The "freaking out" about Huawei looks suspicious, but it terms of everyone building stuff in China, that part's unlikely to have any deep conspiracy behind it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 4:11pm

        Re: Re: Oh, the hypocrisy...!

        ... and gotten prices nobody would pay

        I don't understand this at all. I've worked in electronics manufacturing and even built cell phones at one time, right here in the US. When you're building a run of 500 phones at a time, really small numbers to keep this as biased toward foreign manufacture as possible, the amount of time each person on the assembly line is actually handling each phone is very small, on the order of 30 seconds or less. If we assume that 10 people had to handle that phone from start to finish plus another 4 people operating the machines that do most of the work (and each of those people spent 2 hours setting up and cleaning up) that's 8 hours and 5 minutes each for 500 phones. Let's round that up to 50 hours total or 10 phones per hour.

        At 10 phones per hour and an hourly wage of, say, $20, that's $2 per phone for manufacturing in the US. If we assume this was contract manufacturing, let's go nuts and triple the cost: $6 per phone. The hourly wage in China, super conservatively and again biased toward foreign manufacture, is $2. That puts the cost per phone, still with the triple cost for contract manufacturing, at 60 cents, a savings of $5.40 per phone.

        The cost of parts is the same, including the housings, lenses, screens and glass, etc.

        When phones cost up to $1000 I find it very hard to believe that that same consumer wouldn't pay $1006 for that same phone. Many already pay another $80 or $90 in sales tax without blinking an eye. And let's be honest: There's absolutely no reason a phone should cost $1000.

        Now, if you want to look at pricing to have the entire phone manufactured in the US, chips and screens and all, then yes, the price will shoot up pretty dramatically. But the manufacture of those parts don't employ that many people, at least not individually. There are more jobs to be had in assembly than in component manufacture. However, even the manufacturing is a matter of economy of scale. Pump out enough parts and your cost per part goes down. We used to make all our own parts and could do so again. The only reason we don't is because (again: economy of scale) there are huge cost savings to be had paying people who make 10% of US wages.

        One more point: When manufacturing moved to China and elsewhere the shelf price of US branded goods did not go down. All of the cost savings went into corporate pockets. Now they don't want to give up those savings and go back to the way things used to work. I can't really blame them but I also can't feel bad for them. We lost countless jobs and a handful of execs got rich.

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        • icon
          nasch (profile), 5 Nov 2019 @ 8:28am

          Re: Re: Re: Oh, the hypocrisy...!

          The only reason we don't is because (again: economy of scale) there are huge cost savings to be had paying people who make 10% of US wages.

          Didn't you just get done arguing that there wouldn't be huge cost savings?

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      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 5 Nov 2019 @ 1:53am

        Re: Re: Oh, the hypocrisy...!

        "Labor is cheaper in China, they (now) have more manufacturing experience, and changing an entire economic system is hard."

        Wrong on the first part. Labor, especially of the manufacturing kind, is NOT cheaper in China.

        It's the last part you need to focus on - as Tim Cook said, if he wanted to round up every tool-and-die engineer in the US he couldn't fill a conference room. In China he could round them up by the thousands. The west has made any form of ground-floor high-skill engineering education as unattractive for the job market as "creative writing" by moving manufacture abroad over the last thirty years.

        As a result it isn't because labor is CHEAPER in China - it's not, and hasn't been for many years. It's that the skillsets required only exists in China today.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Nov 2019 @ 6:55am

          Re: Re: Re: Oh, the hypocrisy...!

          As a result it isn't because labor is CHEAPER in China - it's not, and hasn't been for many years. It's that the skillsets required only exists in China today.

          Last I'd heard it was a little cheaper there, but not nearly as much as one might think. It's interesting that it's changed. Of course, the historical labor cheapness is the reason they have those skills. The "unattractiveness" of manufacturing in the USA didn't, AFAIK, happen until American companies dismantled unions and shipped most of those jobs elsewhere.

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          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 5 Nov 2019 @ 7:36am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Oh, the hypocrisy...!

            "It's interesting that it's changed. Of course, the historical labor cheapness is the reason they have those skills."

            Correct. When outsourcing started the cheapness was the driving factor, and being a factory engineer specialized in toolmaking became an art with no future in the US.

            Then when China had built an entire generations worth of specialists with skillsets catering to the glut of western manufacturing orders not only had the price of the labor climbed to western levels, they also sat on the only labor pool with the required skillsets.

            Tim Cook is the most vociferous one in explaining this - google "Apple CEO Tim Cook: This Is the Number 1 Reason" for his take on it - but there is not a single western electronics manufacturer today who isn't singing the same tune.

            China went from being a backward anachronism several decades behind the west in science and engineering...to becoming a first class world choice of engineering and sciences. And although the chinese post 1950 policy of becoming the industry center of the world may have enabled this development the primary contributor to fulfilling that policy was the US which started the trend of handing over the very industry which enabled it to stand head and shoulders over every competitor post-WW2...to China.

            It shouldn't come as much of a surprise when the industrial base trusted to develop and build every western electronics appliance, from chipsets to laptops and smartphones, found it laughably easy to employ the same skillsets to flood the international markets with quality competition like Lenovo, Huawei, Xiaomi, Hisense, etc.

            It's really no wonder the good friends and peers of the pussy-grabber-in-chief persuaded him to run Huawei off the US market before they buried Cisco.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 Nov 2019 @ 11:45am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Oh, the hypocrisy...!

              And although the chinese post 1950 policy of becoming the industry center of the world may have enabled this development the primary contributor to fulfilling that policy was the US which started the trend of handing over the very industry which enabled it to stand head and shoulders over every competitor post-WW2...to China.

              I think it was several decades later that American companies really started shipping work to China, wasn't it? Japan underwent a similar transformation after WW2, but not really at the expense of American jobs or expertise—America was still manufacturing stuff, and the two countries competed (eg. in cars and electronics). But certainly for the last 20 or 30 years, people just expect electronics to come from China.

              Or had China been building up manufacturing capacity with lower-end products (eg. plastic toys) in the earlier decades after WW2, before moving on to the computer market?

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              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 6 Nov 2019 @ 2:03am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Oh, the hypocrisy...!

                "I think it was several decades later that American companies really started shipping work to China, wasn't it?"

                Correct. China first established a policy of becoming the world's manufacturing center...but China being China this plan was a generational one, meaning that they planned to develop in that direction then spent two generations ensuring its eventual success.

                US companies only began outsourcing after China had made it bluntly clear that they could cut costs significantly, making outsourcing of manufacture a competitive necessity. And that leads us to today where most of the quality electronics industry and bulk manufacturing has to rely on China at some or all steps of production.

                "Japan underwent a similar transformation after WW2, but not really at the expense of American jobs or expertise—America was still manufacturing stuff, and the two countries competed (eg. in cars and electronics)."

                That's only half of the answer. What happened in Japan was that early electronics manufacturers went to the japanese government and asked for a massive set of loans with the explicit intent to conquer the western electronics market. Their initial offers - TV's mainly - were sold below cost of manufacture to the US, solidly outcompeting US companies.
                Initially the japanese companies lost big, covering their losses with government loans. They focused exclusively on making the manufacture process cheaper. By the time their costs were low enough to net a modest profit no US TV manufacturer survived in the market, meaning Toshiba and Hitachi more or less owned the western market of mid-range home electronics.
                They did more or less the same with the car business, assisted in that effort by the energy crisis of the 70's burying the american idea of the gas-guzzling street cruisers.

                When japanese politics gradually became more westernized they lost that edge - and stopped subsidizing core industries as if they were direct state actors. Which is positive for the market but less so for their international competitive edge.

                Western international politics are almost always short term - if the payoff isn't within the next 4-8 years a given project won't happen, lest the credit goes to the opposition in power at the conclusion of it.

                China, otoh, has spent the last two generations deliberately being an increasingly welcoming and capable place for western manufacturing needs - a perfect host and partner - as a result of which is that today if you want anything with a microchip inside you have no choice but to accept one which is made in China. The chinese economy surge during the last twenty years is not a coincidence. It's simply a policy pursued for 50+ years finally paying off.

                "Or had China been building up manufacturing capacity with lower-end products (eg. plastic toys) in the earlier decades after WW2, before moving on to the computer market?"

                Correct. The industrial evolution of China is fairly interesting to observe, as the chinese government has gone all out - subsidies, loans, legislation, direct intervention - to cater to its explosively expanding manufacturing industry. And it all started with cheap toys and tailoring.

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  • icon
    Shel10 (profile), 4 Nov 2019 @ 8:39am

    FCC & Huawei

    Answer is simple. Force all companies controlled by China to partner with U.S. firms and turn over all technical information. Then we reverse engineer products. Also, do not admit citizens of China to attend our schools.

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  • identicon
    Pixelation, 4 Nov 2019 @ 8:58am

    5G

    "When it comes to 5G and America’s security, we can’t afford to take a risk and hope for the best."

    It's really heating up...

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  • identicon
    Avideogameplayer, 4 Nov 2019 @ 9:04am

    Could someone please explain to me why we need to connect EVERYTHING to the internet?

    If they come out with underwear that posts how many times you took a dump to your Amazon account, I'm self destructing...

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 10:39am

      Re:

      "Could someone please explain to me why we need to connect EVERYTHING to the internet?"

      Good question, I suppose it is a combination of things.
      1) business types looking for a market ... anywhere they can
      2) silly consumers just have to have the latest gizmo
      3) little to no oversight
      4) charges per byte
      5) rational to charge you more

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 9:53am

    Also ignoring risks of American network gear

    A more direct comparison would be Huawei with Cisco et al., but Cisco are not immune from problems. Let's say we'll ignore intentional backdoors, and hacking by the NSA. Their software has, like most software, been affected by security bugs in the past. We have no good reason to expect they're better than foreign competition here.

    And this does nothing about the design problems that allow snooping, location tracking, etc. by telcos (and those who have hacked telcos).

    Proper R&D funding for secure OSes and software development practices, and improvements to network security, would improve every American computer system, with the side-effect of protecting foreigners from repressive governments.

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    • icon
      ECA (profile), 4 Nov 2019 @ 11:08am

      Re: Also ignoring risks of American network gear

      considering that we are carrying a device now, that is about 1/10th the power of your computer in your pocket..
      that can track you within 3 meters with GPS, has an identifier sent with most Connetions to the internet and Cell towers..
      A device that can be remotely controlled..for Picture and voice recording.. that has more to do with 4-6 other countries, then JUST CHINA...
      That the 2nd largest and fighting for the top position, Server corporation is involved...

      Also there have Not been any privacy laws for cellphone adopted, That are equal to Hardline phones..
      Most of the internet does not Use those old lines either, and same with your internet connections..

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    icon
    Zof (profile), 4 Nov 2019 @ 9:56am

    They had no choice

    Huawei basically drop-kicked Apple out of the largest phone market on Earth. They had to do something for them.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 10:16am

    surely everyone now realises that this fear is all about Trump trying to help USA businesses that cant compete with Huawei in price, equipment quality and robustness! being jealous of a better company that produces better products, is one thing but to want to actually bring the planet into financial crisis because your own products, in comparison, are crap is absolutely ridiculous!!

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 4:14pm

      Re:

      What makes you think products made by American companies are lower quality than Chinese gear?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 5 Nov 2019 @ 7:53am

        Re: Re:

        "What makes you think products made by American companies are lower quality than Chinese gear?"

        Open your cisco router - or any well-known US brand of home electronics. Read the label which states "made in China". Do the same to your Apple iPhone. Let me know if you find a single chipset manufactured in the US. Motorola (now owned by chinese Lenovo) assembles it's phones in the US still, but as far as i know they do so using components mainly built in China.

        So your question can only be answered with another - "How come you think there is ANY product with microchips in it essentially 'made' by an american company today?".

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    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 5 Nov 2019 @ 1:55am

      Re:

      "being jealous of a better company that produces better products, is one thing but to want to actually bring the planet into financial crisis because your own products, in comparison, are crap is absolutely ridiculous!!"

      It's called "protectionism" and is the trusty default go-to of any sovereign state when it turns out their industry has had it's ass handed to it in international competition.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 10:41am

    Apples to Oranges here

    Stepping away from the why analysis, there is a huge difference between a random device attached to a network being compromised and a device that is in the critical path for all connectivity and communication. It's not unreasonable to be concerned about one of those and not so much the other.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 1:55pm

      Re: Apples to Oranges here

      a device that is in the critical path for all connectivity and communication. It's not unreasonable to be concerned about one of those

      The more paranoid people of the early 1990s were suggesting everyone design protocols as if their network were already compromised (whether by accident or policy). It took about 25 years before just encrypting web traffic became generally expected, despite it being fairly easy and there being a constant parade of attacks (promiscuous-mode packet sniffers, evil access points, BGP rerouting, ...). But that's what needs to be done for the cellular network: change things so that it hardly matters whether the telco is secure.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Nov 2019 @ 7:27am

        Re: Re: Apples to Oranges here

        Spot on.

        And for a recent and interesting perspective, see ex-FBI general council Jim Baker come down on supporting encryption because US's cyber security is so broken (amongst other reasons):

        https://www.lawfareblog.com/rethinking-encryption

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Nov 2019 @ 11:30am

          Re: Re: Re: Apples to Oranges here

          He mentions that the DoD intends to move to a "zero-trust" network model:

          In general, a zero-trust network is, as the name implies, one that you do not trust. A network operator that employs the zero-trust network concept presumes that one or more adversaries have successfully penetrated the network’s perimeter defenses and are present inside the network. The operator also presumes that it will be difficult or impossible to ever be sure that the adversaries have been identified and removed. Accordingly, they treat their internal systems as zero-trust networks, which will include consistently challenging all users, applications and devices and encrypting data as much as possible.

          The linked report mentions traffic analysis as a threat, with cover traffic as a defense: "DoD should work to keep large amounts of data flowing on a constant basis so that increases in operational tempo will not be noticed."

          They fail to mention that that the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory developed onion routing in the 1990s, and that something like this is also needed to prevent traffic (metadata) analysis. (Most onion routing systems don't use cover traffic. That reduces security for purely practical reasons. Apparently, the Freedom Network tried to enable it but was overwhelmed by traffic and disabled it again.)

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  • icon
    ECA (profile), 4 Nov 2019 @ 10:57am

    LMAO...4evr..

    " ban US companies from receiving taxpayer subsidies if they use Huawei, ZTE, or other Chinese gear in their networks."

    Ummm isnt this one reason we were Not allowing Huawei?? that the Chinese gov. was supporting the Corp??

    "Chinese gear"
    Big thing here..REALLY??
    How many consumers or Internet Equipment and one of the higher end cellphones around the world..
    Running Second and third place to All the top runners..

    Who is going to Pay the Extra money to use/get/install OTHER hardware... From WHERE??

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 4:16pm

      Re: LMAO...4evr..

      Open up a Cisco router and you'll find all the parts are made in China, probably even assembled there. If China wanted to infiltrate anyone else's communications they wouldn't need Huawei to be installed there to do it.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 4:48pm

        Re: Re: LMAO...4evr..

        If you have the original circuit schematics, you can randomly select a few and make sure they are all manufactured to spec. To examine the silicon, that may require destructive x-ray testing but it is possible to make sure they made exactly the right thing.

        Not everyone does that probably but it is possible and not that expensive compared overall manufacturing savings that generally come with the cheap labor.

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        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 5 Nov 2019 @ 3:25am

          Re: Re: Re: LMAO...4evr..

          "Not everyone does that probably but it is possible and not that expensive compared overall manufacturing savings that generally come with the cheap labor."

          Err...the labor in China isn't cheap so there's no saving there. It hasn't been for many years now. As Tim Cook has it the main reason everyone manufactures electronics in China is because for the last thirty or forty years the entire west has abandoned and dismantled their pool of engineers with the necessary skillsets. And China now has thousands of skilled experts standing by.

          In short electronics are manufactured in China because it just isn't possible to manufacture those in the US or the EU any more.

          With no savings possible the testing you mention is only performed by intelligence agencies and the odd watchdog NGO, both of whom labor under the issue of acquiring the original blueprints to use as comparison. I believe Huawei's products were already given a clean bill of health as far as possible and so the main concern here remains that future firmware upgrades could include and exploits.

          But that's as true for a Cisco as it is for Huawei...or netgear, etc. You want to secure your router, irrespective of brand, the first thing you need to do is to flash it with an open source driver so you get rid of the OEM driver codes.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 5 Nov 2019 @ 7:58am

      Re: LMAO...4evr..

      " ban US companies from receiving taxpayer subsidies if they use Huawei, ZTE, or other Chinese gear in their networks."

      With some 95% of every microchip in the US being stamped "made in China" and the US not having the industrial capacity or skillset to build those chipsets at home that basically means every US-based company will have to switch to using abacuses and vintage 18th-century telegraphs.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 4 Nov 2019 @ 12:47pm

    Intel and AMD have a problem here

    Both companies operate chip factories located in China, both ship parts from other places to China for assembly. Apple does too. Depending on how the ban is phrased, this might make it illegal for anyone to receive federal money unless they're running Linux.

    Remember, Taiwan is considered part of China by the PRC and the PRC won't do business with any country that disagrees.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 4:17pm

      Re: Intel and AMD have a problem here

      unless they're running Linux.

      Wait... what?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 4:27pm

      Re: Intel and AMD have a problem here

      "this might make it illegal for anyone to receive federal money unless they're running Linux."

      Please explain.
      Would I be allowed to accept money that is not federal? That would be foreign money?
      I am missing something here.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 5 Nov 2019 @ 3:28am

      Re: Intel and AMD have a problem here

      "...this might make it illegal for anyone to receive federal money unless they're running Linux."

      Unless they're running anything more advanced than an abacus, you mean. Last i checked, most chipsets are stamped "made in china".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Nov 2019 @ 11:56am

        Re: Re: Intel and AMD have a problem here

        There are actually fabs in various countries, including some 50 in the USA—some on outdated technology, some modern. The USA still has the technical capability to build CPUs, chipsets, and memory.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 6 Nov 2019 @ 2:24am

          Re: Re: Re: Intel and AMD have a problem here

          "The USA still has the technical capability to build CPUs, chipsets, and memory."

          That "capability" is...very disproportionate how much of US electronics is manufactured in the US as compared to how much is consumed by americans. And the US can't expand that capability unless it somehow manages to make certain job skillsets attractive again and spends the time and money to train a new generation of factory engineers.

          Half of the world's mobile phones, almost all circuit boards, 40% of all semiconductors. All from China. More than half of the world's electronics manufacturing capacity.

          In real terms people like Tim Cooks are on record saying that manufacturing the iPhone completely in the US would bring the price of said appliance to 30k to 100k USD(!)

          Google "how much would an iphone cost if apple were forced to make it in america" and "electronics manufacturing forever chinas".

          The US has the potential capability to play ball in the electronics market, but that assumes congress is willing to sign a rather massive amount of money into subsidized grants, scholarships, and targeted industry subsidies which will drain whatever administration puts it on the books and produce benefits to whichever party is on top twenty years down the line. In the long run that's the only way to catch up to China this side of outright protectionism like, oh, tariff hikes and trade wars which come at enormous costs to the US as well.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2019 @ 4:09pm

    I'm starting to wonder... between the obviously false Huawei arguments and the US telco's salivating mad rush to 5G... is there something about 5G we aren't being told?

    Like, is there some back channel informatics that 5G hardware makes available that's different from 4G, which telcos and the US government would really really want to get access to, and really really wouldn't want Huawei and China getting access to?

    Because this is the only reason I can see for this ballyhoo. 5G isn't that great a step forward (albeit, it IS a step forward, and enables more opportunities that won't be fully realized any time soon) otherwise, and none of the stuff Huawei has been caught doing warrant this type of behavior.

    Seems to me like everyone's trying to pull one over on the consumer here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 5 Nov 2019 @ 8:05am

      Re:

      " I'm starting to wonder... between the obviously false Huawei arguments and the US telco's salivating mad rush to 5G... is there something about 5G we aren't being told?"

      Yes. That what is essentially short-range high-bandwidth wifi routers are being hyped as the best thing next to sliced bread in preparation for fleecing the taxpayers for hefty subsidies on behalf of unscrupulous telco pork barrel projects.

      "Like, is there some back channel informatics that 5G hardware makes available that's different from 4G, which telcos and the US government would really really want to get access to, and really really wouldn't want Huawei and China getting access to?"

      It's more like the absurdly massive rollout of a network of hyper-redundant wifi AP's disguised with the trendy label of "5G" means a LOT of money which the US telecom sector would vastly prefer land in their hands rather than Chinese ones.
      This they did not get since in the end they still had to go abroad to get Ericsson to plan and deploy the network as the technical capacity doesn't exist in the US.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ron Currier (profile), 4 Nov 2019 @ 5:44pm

    US switches manufactured by China

    A few years ago I worked for a (at the time) well-known US manufacturer of network edge switches. We OEMed the hardware and firmware from a Chinese firm that wasn't Huawei. I had access to the firmware source code and noticed that the code was configurable for HPE as well as several other US companies. I suspect that even the super high end switches and routers are made in China since that is the only way to compete on price. So the US is fooling themselves if they think banning Huawei labeled goods will have any affect on whatever Chinese spying might be going on. Simply more security theater and protectionism by the Government.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 5 Nov 2019 @ 3:34am

      Re: US switches manufactured by China

      "So the US is fooling themselves if they think banning Huawei labeled goods will have any affect on whatever Chinese spying might be going on. Simply more security theater and protectionism by the Government."

      Nailed it.

      The main potential threat found is that Huawei is close to the chinese government and thus MIGHT, at some point in the future, push a firmware update to active routers which includes exploits - with no such exploits having been found to currently exist beyond the vulnerabilities which appear inherent to almost every router on the market. But that threat exists as much for a cisco as it does for a huawei.

      Just goes to show if you want to secure your router, replace the OEM drivers with an open source one so you can toss the threat of a forced update into the trash.

      The only thing the huawei sanctions bring to the table is US protectionism (helping Cisco compete in a market where they make the worse and more expensive product) and a political red herring (taking public opinion away from Trump's latest gaffes).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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