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Microsoft, Huawei Fix Security Issue in Huawei Laptops

While Microsoft gives Huawei an attaboy for quick response to the security flaw, it's not a good look for Huawei.

Mitch Wagner

March 29, 2019

2 Min Read
Microsoft, Huawei Fix Security Issue in Huawei Laptops

Huawei MateBook laptops running the company's PCManager software included a backdoor that would let unprivileged users take over "superuser" privileges, according to a Microsoft report, which credit's Huawei assistance in finding and remediating the problem.

Huawei patched the software and issued an advisory in January.

Microsoft researchers say they spotted the flaw after investigating an alert raised by Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection's kernel sensors. Microsoft reported the vulnerability to Huawei, "who responded and cooperated quickly and professionally," according to a Monday post by the Microsoft Defender Research Team, which goes into technical detail on how Microsoft discovered the source of the problem.

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The vulnerability is similar to a backdoor technique used by the NSA, according to a report on SC Magazine.

News of the backdoor is a bad look for Huawei -- at least at first. The US is accusing Huawei of installing backdoors in its networking gear, at the behest of the Chinese government. Huawei denies the accusations; the US has never provided proof of the existence of the backdoors and its finger-pointing has been met by skepticism in other countries.

In this specific case, Huawei acted promptly to mitigate and disclose a possible security problem -- and Microsoft acknowledges its efforts. Also, this particular vulnerability doesn't look Chinese in origin; its inspiration is reportedly red, white and blue.

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About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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