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Another Reason U.S. Fears Huawei: Its Gear Works and It's Cheap (bloomberg.com)
72 points by pseudolus 28 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 51 comments



I don't know enough to have an opinion on either side of this article, but is it journalistically ok to make your primary source for one side James Clapper without noting his history of lying to Congress and the American people under oath?

(Though, as-expected, he won't be prosecuted https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180313/15105739419/clock...)


It's cheap because they save on R&D via utilizing the Chinese military to hack into competitors and steal their R&D[0][1]. This reduces overhead costs to creating new technology. It also gives the Chinese military an advantage, as they can now tell Huawei to put backdoors into all of their gear.

[0]https://www.afr.com/technology/web/security/how-chinese-hack...

[1]https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/former-nortel-exec-warns-ag...


Huawei is among the world's top tech investors in R&D. In the top 3 to 5, I'd say.

[0] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-huawei-r-d/chinas-huawei-...


This does not preclude stealing IP, too. That is, of course, when the western companies don't just hand them the IP in order to get "entry into the worlds largest market." LOL.

Huawei went so far when copying that they copied the bugs on certain Cisco gear. Yeah, they lost that one in court.


As long as we're clear that the noise around Huawei has nothing to do with any 'theft' but with the US feeling the heat and moving to protectionist tactics.


>Huawei is among the world's top tech investors in R&D. In the top 3 to 5, I'd say.

CLAIMS to be among the world's top tech investors. Literally nobody outside of the communist party has any idea what their true finances are. We've already got proof of that in the money going into and out of Iran which was unaccounted for.


Sure... All these R&D engineers and R&D centres the world over do not really exist. Their 5G leadership does not really exist.

Trying too hard to badmouth them makes people look ridiculous.


> It's cheap because they save on R&D via utilizing the Chinese military to hack into competitors and steal their R&D

I doubt there’s that much cloak-and-dagger involved. Every multinational company with offices in China or with Chinese nationals working in other countries are basically handing over their proprietary information voluntarily.


It is cheap because Huawei engineers works crazy overtime for free. Chinese engineers go work to Nokia after they are burn out after Huawei and want to have some life...

Nokia & E/// have tons of sites across the world and don't act like labor camp.


So it is the same as the US did a while back.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industrial_espionage#United_...


Oh well I guess it's okay then. US had legal slavery, should we let China go nuts with that one too?


Reductio ad absurdum.

Slavery violates human rights. Industrial espionage does not, it only violates fictitious "intellectual property" rights.


All rights are ficticious in that sense. Tell me, do you feel equally attached to your right to not have me steal, say, your phone ?


I forgot the details but Boeing also did state sponsored tricks to jail some European CEO (can't remember any more so far.. sorry)


This has to be BS. Ericsson's gear works, Nokia's gear works.

Both of those are in use, in prod in Canada right now (for Rogers) as far as I know.

And as for it being "cheap" - let's be real - There's a reason why it's cheap - It's state sponsored.

This entire article is probably sponsored by China.

EDIT: I'm extra salty because of the fall of Nortel - which can easily be attributed to Huawei.


That and they free ride on the R&D of other companies. I was talking to an engineer at Ciscoper years ago, who mentioned that they copied a router design down to the English silk screened assembly instructions in the PCBs.


With all the layoffs across the telecom equipment industry, Huawei should be able to get a ton of highly qualified/knowledgeable engineers in Europe, Japan and the US full of trade secrets.


Why bother when they can just steal the information?


As my friends in India tell me- China is very good at sponsoring stories. They don't pay the newspaper- they pay the journalist.

Unlike IBM of old (and apple of new) where newspapers are/were rewarded with ads, China rewards journalists, usually in kind so as to avoid all suspicion.


In this debate of Huawei vs. rest , i feel both the parties have valid assertions. Although the Chinese online propaganda army is strong.

Just the other day as i was watching a video about a bridge being constructed in India, the top rated Youtube comment was a snarky remark suggesting that India talks first, builds later while it is opposite for China.A host of similar comments made an otherwise fine video undigestible.

Welcome to the post truth era.


aren't all big telco's state sponsored is a multitude of ways? either by direct funds, tax breaks, support or expensive state contracts that the states have to use because there aren't any alternatives?


There's a different level with Chinese corporations.

Remember that China is a single-party system. You're either with the party, or you're not. In other countries, there are two (or more) major political parties to be aligned to. Any corporation that tilts towards one political group will lose power when the other groups come into office.

Ex: Farming corporations tend to be aligned with Republicans. Environmental corporations tend to be aligned with Democrats. While they get benefits when their party is in power, its hard to keep the subsidies going when the opposition enters.

That's not true of China. If you're with "The Party", then you get all the benefits of being with the party all the time.


> Any corporation that tilts towards one political group will lose power when the other groups come into office

That's why smart corporations sponsor government positions instead of specific politicians.


> Any corporation that tilts towards one political group will lose power when the other groups come into office

not if they simply shift their campaign donations to the other groups. federal level politicians spend a huge fraction of their time constantly and aggressively looking for campaign cash.


Indeed. But that kind of shorter-term quid-pro-quo is less corrupt than the depths of a single-party alignment over the course of decades.


Big telcos tend to get in bed with governments because they're a strategic intelligence source. Since companies can be gagged, no one knows for sure how much in bed they are. Choose as if choosing which government you want to spy on you.


any sufficiently large corporation is state sponsored yes. the original “too big to fail”. but telcos like ATT, Verizon, are more sponsored than telco appliance manufacturers.


That is fairly accurate.. the story of The Bell System is pretty interesting if not totally bizarre. Things are a bit more capitalist these days since most transport is IP and the commercial IT sector drives most development there, but cell networks are still largely the product of a handful of companies as PSTN switching and interface equipment were.


Nokia works - good joke ;-) disclaimer - I work in that circus.

Huawei is far more technologically advanced than Nokia and E///. Their stuff is cheap and well thought.

Let's take massive-MIMO (it's key for 5G)- Nokia is about 5 years behind Hua, E/// is at least year behind Hua.

Nokia HW for 5G baseband costs several times more than Hua equivalent. Huawei has nothing to learn from Nokia - beside how not to do stuff ;-)

USA is pissed off on Huawei because every telco vendor tied to US failed miserably - Motorola & ALU. They have nothing and must rely on E/// & Nokia on their strategic infra. US operators have no options than take E/// and NOK - they are not in position to negotiate prices because you need to have at least 2 telco vendors.


> Ericsson's gear works, Nokia's gear works. > Both of those are in use, in prod in Canada right now (for Rogers) as far as I know.

Can confirm— Rogers at the very least is going with Ericsson for their coming 5G network. Don't believe they use any Huawei.

Bell and Telus, do, however—AFAIK


Like recent BS Bloomberg stories about evesdropping on iCloud servers, I find it highly suspect that their stuff actually works - even in a nefarious way.

They're Chinese, end of story. If it's true, they had help from somewhere.


And it's well known all Chinese do it steal, right? At least have the decency to start the comment with "I'm not trying to be racist/xenophobic/a-hole/etc." before being one.


[flagged]


I'm not trying to insult you but you just generically applied to 1.4 billion people a conclusion based on a data set so small even you can make use of.

No matter what country or a people you belong to someone can find something about them that will "make you proud" and which surely applies because I already have one data point showing it.

And just because you were curious how empires are built but not enough to actually go beyond bigotry, here's an example: [0]. Spoiler alert, it's stealing from the current leaders.

[0] https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/how-industrial-esp...


There's very little competition because Huawei spent the 1990's and 2000's stealing IP and driving competitors out of the Wireless business. In the 3G competitions there were over a doze vendors of equipment, today there are 3 of any real size. With rest either dead, merged because they couldn't compete with the theft of their IP or just not stepping into game.

When Huawei got caught the Chinese government would "delay" certification in china of the companies suing them for infringement. This would ultimately end with an "understanding" that "no infringement" took place and that it was a misunderstanding. Problem is that misunderstanding always included Huawei and always western telecom vendors. Cisco, Lucent, Alcatel, Seimens all sued Huawei at some point - and all settled. Nortel's old headquarters was so riddled with bugs that IP Thieves left in their network the Canadian Department of Defense when they took over the building ultimately delayed moving in because of what they found:

https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/dnd-may-abandon-1b-move-to-for...

Huawei has spent the past half dozen years trying to clean up their brand by building consumer products, massive advertising sponsorships, free and paid for "next generation trials" and colocating research centres in the cities and countries where they drove the local competitors into the ground. They're now the only partner local research institutions can turn to for funding. They think they're like Cisco..

The Chinese governments IP transfer rules for international companies wishing to do local sales provide their industries a chance to Learn, coerce, steal and ultimately live within a protected market for these ill gotten gains. Is China buying Western competitors Mobile network infrastructure? Hells no. Why they're shocked that other governments are reacting in protectionist stance and ultimately questioning the interaction between the company and the government should become no surprise.


> They think they're like Cisco..

They think way more highly of themselves than that.


I am sceptical that Huawei is planting Trojans in its gear. Having a Chinese company corner the world market is probably much more valuable to the Chinese government than possible spying opportunities.

The battlefields in the current world are, I think, more economic battles.


I'm doubtful that there aren't backdoors in Huawei equipment just as I'm doubtful that there aren't backdoors in the equipment of western manufacturers. That said, it comes down to selecting the lesser of two evils.


Thinking it over, you are probably correct.


I have some experience with Huawei "enterprise" products and they're awfully cheesy - the hardware is very low rent and the software both limited and very specific to a few common use cases. The configuration experience often needs to be seen to be believed, with support beyond the trivial requiring Huawei engineers flown out. Their products can be crazy cheap, though, and in Asia, easy financing via China state banks is usually enough to close a deal.


"the U.S. has dispatched lawyers, diplomats and intelligence officials to corporate and government offices around the world to press its case that Huawei must not be allowed to run their 5G networks"

and

"U.S. officials, mindful of Huawei’s market advantages, are even trying to develop packages of U.S.-made gear to provide foreign companies an alternative to buying Huawei"

I think this is the crux of it. If Huawei was a security problem, the US would just worry about itself. But Huawei is actually an economic threat to them, which is why we've seen this anti-Huawei sentiment recently.


Another aspect is that with the equipment where we worked for a competing product, Huawei was cheap because it cheated in electromagnetic compatibility requirements, while our products were strictly required to comply. I suppose the reason for more lax approach by customers to Huawei was simply the desire to bring it up as a new competitor and cut prices.

Sure, the things worked well enough. They maybe caused interference in some other equipment, maybe not, but in any case it was not too bad, because the EMC requirements were quite tight for these products.

(This was 15 years ago and I have no specific references, I just remember the frustration of our HW designers.)


Tech monkeys here did even realize that it is about the trade war. National security is decades ago is the reason why Chinese gov banned tech giant unless they have completely complied with Chinese laws. Now it's your turn America


Has there been a thorough, independent and transparent audit of Huawei components ?

How would a layman even start making up their mind about this ?


This is not universally true of all of Huawei's products relative to competition in terms of cost. Huawei's enterprise storage products, for instance, are significantly more expensive than alternatives from companies in the West.


Not a Chinese agent. But if anyone wants to actually be secure they need to ban American equipment as well, which is well suited for only America... and invest in making their own probably open source designs.


What many people here don't remember is that China is only a fairly recent first-class member of the international trading community and that was hugely controversial at the time.

Up until the Clinton administration there was a status of Most Favored Nation that countries had to get. There was a lot of pressure from companies eager to sell to China's 1B+ people and there was a lot of politicking about this. I believe it was a big reason why "most favored nation" was renamed to "permanent normal trade relations" in 1998.

Tiananmen Square was still fresh in peoples minds having only happened less than a decade earlier. China at the time also sold military technology to countries the US wasn't on good terms with.

So China obtained MFN/PNTR in 2000 and joined the WTO the year after. One argument used for this was that the only way to make China play by the rules is to be a member.

What's become increasingly clear however is that China did not, does not and probably will not play by the rules. The examples that spring to mind are:

- Wholesale intellectual property theft from Western companies. To be fair, many Western companies are complicit in this. Eager to open up new markets they agree to "partnerships" with Chinese companies that are thinly veiled IP heists.

- Theft of military secrets and technology.

- Sale of products to sanctioned nations (eg ZTE).

- A concerted effort to ensure that no foreign company ends up owning a market in China. Take all the tech companies in the rest of the world and there's a Chinese equivalent (Google -> Baidu, Amazon -> Alibaba, Apple -> Huawei/ZTE/etc). This isn't an accident and it's not because foreign companies don't "get" the Chinese market.

- The Chinese government and military have a large-scale and active electronic warfare program designed to steal IP, threaten companies and control discourse (eg anyone critical of the Chinese government).

The big concern about this is that isn't rogue actors. This is state sanctioned to the highest levels. The rest of the world seems completely disinclined to tackle this.

But at some point in the future you'll expect to see things like:

- Companies won't do business in China

- Companies won't do business with Chinese companies

- Companies won't employ Chinese citizens (for fear of IP theft).

On the last point, I'm honestly surprised the US government hasn't restricted Chinese-born people from working with any classified tech given the history of theft here.

As to Huawei, this is a real propaganda piece by Bloomberg as anyone who is concerned about the security of their IP and their infrastructure should as part of their due diligence be assessing the risk of using networking gear from a company where there is a serious concern that the Chinese government or military may have compromised the code that hardware runs.


[dead]


I don’t see how you can justify linking to mobile Wikipedia and calling someone else a retarded fuckstick in the same post.


[flagged]


This article provides plenty of affirmations but no evidence of malware inside Huawei's products. Considering states have more resources than anyone to audit these components, why haven't they found something? Have they, and they're mum because exposing it would expose their own practices?


This article does not give any basis to call Huawei a chinese intelligence front and Totally lacks any analysis.


The cheapest bug in the world is still a bug.


Unless I missed something, there's no evidence of actual bugs in their gear though, right?

You can argue an update could deliver one I suppose, but the same is true of just about anything if you want that standard.




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