Chinese tech firm Huawei says it was hacked by the United States

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

Chinese tech firm Huawei says it was hacked by the United States

Things have got even hotter in the bun-fight between Chinese technology giant and the United States.

Amid ongoing claims that Huawei, the biggest manufacturer of telecoms equipment and the world’s second largest smartphone producer, poses a national security risk, The Wall Street Journal has reported that the Chinese firm is being investigated by the Department of Justice for stealing smartphone camera patents.

Huawei, naturally denies the claims. But it says much more in its press release, where it accused the United States of actually hacking its infrastructure (I’ve emboldened the particular bullet point of interest):

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For the past several months, the US government has been leveraging its political and diplomatic influence to lobby other governments to ban Huawei equipment. Furthermore, it has been using every tool at its disposal – including both judicial and administrative powers, as well as a host of other unscrupulous means – to disrupt the normal business operations of Huawei and its partners. These include:

  • Instructing law enforcement to threaten, menace, coerce, entice, and incite both current and former Huawei employees to turn against the company and work for them
  • Unlawfully searching, detaining, and even arresting Huawei employees and Huawei partners
  • Attempting entrapment, or pretending to be Huawei employees to establish legal pretense for unfounded accusations against the company
  • Launching cyber attacks to infiltrate Huawei’s intranet and internal information systems
  • Sending FBI agents to the homes of Huawei employees and pressuring them to collect information on the company
  • Mobilizing and conspiring with companies that work with Huawei, or have a business conflict with Huawei, to bring unsubstantiated accusations against the company
  • Launching investigations based on false media reports that target the company
  • Digging up old civil cases that have already been settled, and selectively launching criminal investigations or filing criminal charges against Huawei based on claims of technology theft
  • Obstructing normal business activities and technical communications through intimidation, denying visas, detaining shipment, etc

No specific details about the hacking claims are included in the press release, but could it really be true that the United States has hacked Huawei?

To be honest, I’d be very surprised if the USA hadn’t tried at the very least. After all, if they truly believe Huawei to be a risk to their national security they will want to collect as much intelligence as they can about the company.

But attributing a cyber attack to a particular party is notoriously difficult. It would certainly be just as fascinating to see Huawei’s reasons why it believes the USA hacked it, as to see what evidence the United States has against Huawei.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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