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Trump to Ban Huawei, ZTE in US in January?

Dan Jones
12/27/2018

President Trump is reportedly considering an executive order that would declare a national emergency banning US companies from using telecoms equipment from Chinese vendors, Huawei and ZTE, which could take effect in January 2019.

Reuters is citing three sources behind a December 26 report of a possible ban.

Such a move would further escalate a veritable telecom Cold War between the US and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd . In the last weeks of this year, this has culminated in the arrest of Huawei's CFO, Meng Wanzhou, in Canada at the behest of US authorities. (See Huawei CFO Posts Bail in Canada and Huawei's Hu Hits Back.)

Meanwhile, operators across the globe have been considering whether or not they will use Huawei to deploy next-generation 5G mobile infrastructure. (See Podcast: The Heat Is on Huawei and Telecom Italia Stands by Huawei as Peers Waver.)


Want to know more about 5G? Check out our dedicated 5G content channel here on
Light Reading.


Huawei and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) were first declared a security risk in October 2012 by the US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Government contractors were recommended not to use the Chinese equipment. The gear is currently not used by major US operators in the states. However, some smaller, rural operators still have the technology in their networks. Further US federal bans on both infrastructure and handsets followed in 2018. (See Surprise! Sprint Still Has Huawei in Its Network, Huawei Faces Further Heat From US Administration – Report and Huawei, ZTE Face US Federal Ban.)

Curiously, Trump actually stepped in this spring to save ZTE, after it was crippled by a ban on buying US components by Congress. Things, however, appear to be different now. (See {docklink 743043}, Trump Says ZTE Can Re-Open... With Conditions and China's ZTE Expects $1B Loss This Year After US Sanctions.)

An emergency ban would put reportedly block US companies from buying equipment from foreign telecom vendors makers that are considered a security risk.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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Duh!
Duh!
12/31/2018 | 2:34:30 PM
Re: Catch-22
Denial-of-service attacks are definite threats. We don't know yet what happened at CenturyLink. but it appears - vendor claims to the contrary - that cascading system-wide failures are still a thing, even outside of BGP.

It is indeed easy to tap a fiber. Scratch off a little cladding and bend and hope that nobody notices the added loss. That's not the same thing as compromising hardware and/or software to create a covert monitor and side-channel -- and keeping them covert.

 
brooks7
brooks7
12/31/2018 | 1:09:30 PM
Re: Catch-22
 

How to tap and what you would do with it might be interesting.  Let's say we go to these networked self-driving cars....suddenly we have no wireless internet and poof all auto travel shut down in the US.

Why a particular spot?  Because assume ALL equipment is bugged (just the Cisco and Juniper gear is bugged by the CIA).  

How to do optical?  I worked on some stuff where we split small portions of the light for monitoring....

seven

 
brooks7
brooks7
12/31/2018 | 1:06:17 PM
Re: Catch-22
No it was not debunked.  It was denied.  There are US Gov documents that show that it happened.

seven

 
Duh!
Duh!
12/31/2018 | 11:41:02 AM
Re: Catch-22
Wasn't the hardware backdoor story debunked?

It turns out that Nokia has a significant presence in China, mostly China Mobile.

As a thought experiment, consider a WDM/OTN core transport switch (like a Huawei Optix OSN-9800). How would you mount an eavesdropping attack on such a beast and keep it hidden?

Another thought experiment: an OLT/edge router serving a rural community (with no defense-related presence).  Plenty of ways to get into the data path, but no valuable assets. Why would they bother?

 
brooks7
brooks7
12/31/2018 | 10:54:14 AM
Re: Catch-22
@Duh!,

Do you remember the scandal that was revealed this fall when it was reported that some servers that were made in China had hardware backdoors built into them?

Spies spy.  That is what they do.  No matter what country they are in.  China has heavily invested in comm equipment so that it no longer imports gear from the US.  Comm equipment is a modern form of weaponry.

seven

 
Duh!
Duh!
12/28/2018 | 3:20:52 PM
Catch-22
I'm skeptical. It's fair to accept at face value that these companies will do the bidding of the Chinese government It's more difficult to believe that ALL classes of Chinese-made equipment, even in the remotest, most consumer focused corners of the network, could present a meaningful threat to national security. Edge/aggregation routers, maybe. OLTs or optical transponders? Please explain.

Here's the catch:  The deep-dive analysis (plus any intel) is undoubtedly classified with classifications that are classified. There isn't even an unclassified summary. So, they say: "trust us".

Of course, it's a complete coincidence that the US govermment is fomenting a trade war against China. 

Just asking.
Duh!
Duh!
12/28/2018 | 2:59:40 PM
Re: Big winners of Huawei ZTE USA Ban?
Also Adtran, Calix, Ciena, and Infinera.
DanJones
DanJones
12/28/2018 | 11:44:33 AM
Re: Big winners of Huawei ZTE USA Ban?
Will it make much difference? Huawei & ZTE are pretty much such out of the US market already.
sarcher60555
sarcher60555
12/28/2018 | 11:19:57 AM
Big winners of Huawei ZTE USA Ban?
Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung for sure.

Cisco, Juniper?

 
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