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Government hacking attempts “standard espionage practice”: Huawei

James Hutchinson (via AFR) | May 28, 2013
Global cyber security officer of Chinese vendor Huawei John Suffolk said all governments were seeking secret information from each other.

Government hacking attempts “standard espionage practice”: Huawei
Global cyber security officer of Chinese vendor Huawei John Suffolk said all governments were seeking secret information from each other. Photo: Peter braig

The global cyber security officer of controversial Chinese vendor Huawei says he is not surprised about attack attempts on federal government agencies, arguing they are part of standard espionage practices.

"Governments have always done that," he told The Australian Financial Review, referring to espionage and attack attempts on other governments.

"Some people say that spying is the second oldest profession, where people have tried to get information off us for somebody else, so I don't think anyone is surprised that any government around the world is trying to find out what other governments around the world are doing."

Mr Suffolk's comments come after ABC program 4 Corners revealed on Monday that Chinese hackers had stolen the blueprints to the $630 million building that will house the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation. The program alleged that the attacks also pilfered details surrounding the building's communications cabling, server locations, floor plans and security systems.

A hit was made on a site contractor's systems and traced to a server in China.


Mr Suffolk, in Australia for the CeBIT technology conference, pointed to the mantra of Australia's own Defence Signals Directorate to discover other governments' secrets while protecting its own. He said the "harsh reality is every government around the world has a similar strapline for their security agencies".

"Governments have to really focus on what quiet steps they're going to take, accepting no government will really trust 100 per cent another government, regardless of the laws, the policies and procedures," he said.

He referred to Huawei as a "piggy in the middle" in a debate that has often focused on espionage attempts between China and the United States.

It has led to the telecommunications vendor being pushed out of private and public sector contracts in the US, while it was also banned from providing equipment to Labor's $37.4 billion national broadband network amid security concerns which have not been made public.


Mr Suffolk, who was the UK Government's chief information officer and security head for five years, said he remained hopeful of re-entering market where it hasdbeen banned as governments became more aware of security threats. But he was unclear whether a prospective Coalition government would reverse Labor's decision to ban the company should it win government in September.


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