How many degrees of separation are there between the Chinese military and the global network equipment maker?
In a rarity, a report blaming China and state-owned Internet carrier China Telecom for rampant cyber snooping does not mention the word “Huawei." That is the name of another Chinese-headquartered telecom frequently accused of conspiring with the aforementioned to bug U.S. government and corporate networks.
Computer forensics firm Mandiant on Tuesday released a 76-page study implicating the People's Liberation Army in more than 100 cyber raids on mostly English-speaking entities. Either that, or a well-funded hacker group with direct access to Shanghai-based telecom infrastructure is engaged in a cyber espionage mission next door to a PLA unit with the same mission, the report sneered.
Meanwhile, China Telecom and Huawei, a global technology provider founded by a former PLA member, recently collaborated to build “Gigabit-speed connections for office buildings” in Shanghai, Huawei officials said. According to a memo obtained by Mandiant, China Telecom shares special fiber optic communications equipment with the PLA unit for national defense purposes.
Huawei spokesman Francis Hopkins this week said the company "had no comment on this report, which pertains to allegations against China's military." He added that "Huawei is a private multinational corporation" and the manufacturer "provides telecom equipment to 45 of the world's top 50 service providers."
Mandiant's work was first reported by The New York Times.
While Mandiant’s findings make no claims about Huawei’s involvement in cyberstalking, congressional probes into the business have alleged network eavesdropping activities.
In late 2012, a House Intelligence Committee investigation asserted Huawei steals U.S. competitors’ trade secrets and might be embedding "backdoors" into goods that it markets stateside to remotely poach data. For the past decade, Huawei has sold hardware and software in U.S. regions like the Great Lakes.
Huawei has consistently denied hacking U.S. government and corporate interests.