NSA Hacks Huawei: How It Worked, Leaked NSA Slides Here (analysis)

Written by David Michaelis

China wants answers about the most-recent NSA leaks, showing the NSA hacks Huawei and other Chinese firms. Here’s the inside story, leaked slides and repercussions. It’s high noon when China calls out the U.S. to explain U.S. hacking.

aNewDomain.net — You know it’s high noon on the international tech stage when China is facing off against the United States. As the most-recent NSA leaks show, the NSA hacks Huawei — and potentially other tech companies in the east. China’s leaders want answers. When Chinese President Xi Jinping this week complained to U.S. President Barack Obama about surveillance of Huawei and other firms, Obama said the issue boils down to more than financial interests.

Here are two leaked NSA slides and associated NSA commentary, viewable in place, as provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to The New York Times about U.S. plans to hack into Huawei back in 2010.

NSA Hacks Huawei Leaked Powerpoint Slides

So let’s explore how the NSA surveillance on Huawei worked. The New York Times, in its report on the matter, wraps it up neatly.

According to the NYT:

… the agency pried its way into the servers in Huawei’s sealed headquarters in Shenzhen, China’s industrial heart, according to N.S.A. documents provided by the former contractor Edward J. Snowden. It obtained information about the workings of the giant routers and complex digital switches that Huawei boasts connect a third of the world’s population … and monitored communications of the company’s top executives. One of the goals of the operation, code-named ‘Shotgiant,’ was to find any links between Huawei and the People’s Liberation Army, one 2010 document made clear. But the plans went further: to exploit Huawei’s technology … when the company sold equipment to other countries.”

Read the full story here.

China and Huawei are no strangers to being constantly accused by the media and members of the U.S. Congress as being aggressive thieves of commercial information. The Chinese are also good at offense, but defense is harder. Here’s a post from a member of the American tech community, reacting to the NSA hacks Huawei story.

It would not have been very difficult for the NSA to find ways into the networking equipment of Huawei since Huawei had already pilfered the design documents for their routers and switches from Cisco. At a previous employer, I had a team on the ground in China deploying design software at Huawei. The design data that the team was given to load into the systems were design documents that still had the Cisco identification data in the data files. Although we declined to load that data, I downloaded the Huawei product catalog a few months later and at least externally the Huawei products were identical to the Cisco products except for the logo plate.”

Huawei’s Reaction

In a statement — read more about it here, Huawei spokesman Bill Plummer sharply criticized the spying measures. He said:

If it is true, the irony is that exactly what they are doing to us is what they have always charged that the Chinese are doing through us …If such espionage has been truly conducted, then it is known that the company is independent and has no unusual ties to any government and that knowledge should be relayed publicly to put an end to an era of mis  and disinformation.

This is an all-out war for information at every level — encompassing terror-related spying, economic secrets and political deals. American politicians preaching to China how to behave in cyber space is a waste of time and hypocritical. The challenge is security and defense with both sides playing for dominance.

For aNewDomain.net, I’m David Michaelis.

Based in Australia, David Michaelis is a world-renowned international journalist and founder of Link TV. At aNewDomain.net, he covers the global beat, focusing on politics and other international topics of note for our readers in a variety of forums. Email him at DavidMc@aNewDomain.net.