Heard, and overheard

May 3 2010   11:44PM GMT

Huawei and national security concerns: Lock the barn door after horse has bolted?

Anilpatrick Anil Patrick Profile: Anilpatrick

At times, babus provide us with tremendously amusing reading material early in the morning. The latest in this sequence is the Huawei telecom deal issue. Now, I do agree that the national security threat argument does hold water. But shouldn’t this have been thought of while granting them permission to trade in India?

Now, that would have been in 2001 (or earlier)? Or, shouldn’t the company’s permission have been revoked in the wake of the controversial reverse engineering allegations against Huawei in 2003?

No, we were asleep all those years.

Atleast, till this “jaago re” moment arrived (with due courtesy to the original FMCG campaign)—after almost 10 years of Chinese telecom and last mile connectivity hardware taking over the Indian market. So much so, that almost every second CDMA/GSM/whatever wireless internet access hardware which organizations provide their mobile users with, has the Huawei or ZTE or *insert another Chinese telecom hardware brand here* logo on them. Just look around in your company, and you’ll discover a fair share of Chinese hardware. And, I won’t even get into what the service providers are running.

Now the question is, are we sitting on a spyware/botnet/backdoor network of national proportions? Can the dictat issuers find out the existing security implications, if there are any? More importantly, do they even have people capable enough?

I don’t know, and frankly, it’s kind of late. The Chinese telecom hardware spread in India is much wider than it seems. In fact, I’m not sure if there are any options when it comes to wireless Internet access. Shouldn’t we be working on that aspect as well while issuing bans?

Devices of Chinese origin rule the Indian market at the moment—whether it’s hardware provided from the ISPs or bought directly by the users. In fact, if you do know of non-Chinese options for your wireless modems, do let me know. There are some Chinese modems/broadband routers that we might need to replace around here due to “security concerns”.

As far as the present controversy is concerned, in our country, sab chalta hai! And sab chalta hai includes even your Chinese made modems—so just wait for all the noise to subside. In the interim, hide your modems and routers!

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