UK telecom giant Vodafone has discovered vulnerabilities in Huawei equipment used for the company’s activities in Italy several years ago, news that comes at an inopportune time for the Chinese telecom company’s reputation as it struggles to fend off accusations that it works in partnership with Beijing’s intelligence services to spy on Western governments.
Vodafone discovered hidden backdoors in the equipment used by Vodafone for its Italian telecommunications network. Developers use backdoors to bypass security measures on certain devices which allows them to take over control of the equipment and software. In some cases, the backdoors were also used by hackers to access a customer’s personal computer and home network.
The built-in backdoors were discovered in the internet routers used by private customers as far back as 2011. At that time, Vodafone told Huawei to remedy the problem, which the Chinese giant guaranteed had happened, but further tests showed that the potentially dangerous back doors were never removed.
Similar weaknesses were also found in parts of the fixed network. Vodafone, however, maintains that the problems no longer exist and were only limited to the Italian market. Experts say the problem would still exist in almost all major European markets beyond Italy, including the UK, Germany, Spain, and Portugal.
Vodafone, however, has said it will not act against Huawei because the basic services of the Chinese company are still cheaper than their European counterparts.
US President Donald J. Trump is struggling to get his Western allies to join his ban on the use of Huawei technology for 5G infrastructure. According to the White House, Huawei is using backdoors to carry out spy activities on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party.