Cyber security expert cautions PH telcos amid Huawei crackdown

Robie de Guzman   •   May 21, 2019   •   2722

MANILA, Philippines – Major telecommunication companies in the Philippines should exercise caution amid the ban imposed by the United States (US) on Chinese tech giant Huawei, a cybersecurity expert said.

The US last week barred American firms from dealing with Huawei without a government license, in a latest blow against China amid escalating trade war.

The US accused Huawei of posing an international security threat, saying the telecom company is being used by China for surveillance and to “spy” on Americans.

Huawei, the world’s biggest supplier of telecommunications equipment, gets critical technology and components from a number of US firms for its devices.

On Sunday, news emerged that Google will comply with a US government order and suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing.

Reports said the move will render Google services inaccessible on Huawei smartphones that run on Android. Future versions of Huawei mobile devices will also lose access to popular services, such as Google Play Store, Gmail and YouTube apps.

In a statement, Android clarified that existing Huawei devices can still have access to Google services.

READ: Existing Huawei devices safe from Google app restrictions—Android

Local telecommunication companies, in a separate statement, also assured its subscribers that existing Huawei handsets and devices will continue to function normally on their network.

READ: Purchased Huawei products will function properly on our network – PLDT

But cyber security expert Roselle Reig said the ongoing crackdown and increasing number of countries banning Huawei should alarm local telcos.

“They need to be cautious because it seems there a lot of countries that are against Huawei. Our Telcos should listen and be aware of what is happening outside the country and to safeguard our Huawei users,” she said.

Reig also stressed that an intensive study should be conducted to determine the implications of the issue to the national security should spying allegations against Huawei are proven to be true.

The US State Department earlier accused the Tech Giant of sharing some vital information to their clients in the Chinese government.

“Should there be backdoor access that could spy the device or Huawei devices can be used to spy the government or communication (system) in the country, it’s a big threat to the security of every Filipino and Internet user,” she said.

Reig also expressed fear that the processes of systems in terms of transportation, electricity and banking, among others may be put in danger due to cyber hacking.

On the part of Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), acting secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said the US blacklist on Huawei would not affect its policy of allowing private telcos choose their equipment supplier.

Telcos are also required by the government to provide assurance that their networks will not pose any threat to national security.

“If it does, if an incident happens, then they can lose their business, if their network has been the cause of breach that endangers our national security,” said DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr.

Despite the ban, Huawei assured to keep sending software updates to its devices for the next three months after receiving a temporary license until August 19, 2019.

READ: U.S. temporarily eases trade restrictions vs Huawei

The US government also temporarily eased restrictions on Huawei for 90 days to minimize disruption for customers and to allow telcos relying on the Chinese firm to make other arrangements. (with details from April Cenedoza)

PNP chief orders crackdown on cops using seized, unregistered vehicles

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Camilo Cascolan has ordered a crackdown on police officers using vehicles that are unregistered, stolen, and impounded as evidence in criminal cases.

PNP Public Information Office (PIO) chief Colonel Ysmael Yu said Cascolan also directed all police unit commanders to conduct inspection and inventory of all motor vehicles as well as surprise camp lockdowns to catch personnel who are using such vehicles.

The PNP’s Highway Patrol Group and Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group have been tapped to lead the crackdown, Yu added.

“The chief Philippine National Police is national in scope with his directive so it is automatically nationwide, so everyone from the region could adhere to the mandate of the chief Philippine National Police,” he said.

Cascolan also wants all vehicles impounded in police camps and stations to be accounted.

Police personnel are prohibited from using vehicles that are recovered, unregistered, and impounded, as well as removing any parts of such vehicles.

The PNP chief warned to slap charges and sanctions against cops who are found doing such act.

“Criminal liability has to be determined but automatically, since they are the member of the Philippine National Police, they will be charged, and investigated administratively for the purpose,” Yu said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

UK to purge Huawei from 5G by 2027

UNTV News   •   July 15, 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered Huawei equipment to be purged completely from Britain’s 5G network by 2027, risking the ire of China by signaling that the world’s biggest telecoms equipment maker is no longer welcome in the West.

The seven-year lag will please British telecoms operators such as BT, Vodafone and Three, which had feared they would be forced to spend billions of pounds to rip out Huawei equipment much faster. But it will delay the roll out of 5G.

The decision was announced in parliament on Tuesday (July 14) by Johnson’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, Oliver Dowden.

Dowden also confirmed Britain’s National Security Council (NSC), chaired by Johnson, has decided to ban the purchase 5G components from the end of this year.

The United States had long pushed Johnson to reverse a decision he made in January to grant Huawei a limited role in 5G.

London has also been dismayed by a crackdown in Hong Kong and the perception China did not tell the whole truth over the coronavirus.

The cyber arm of Britain’s GCHQ eavesdropping agency, the National Cyber Security Centre, told ministers it could no longer guarantee the stable supply of Huawei gear after the United States imposed new sanctions on chip technology.

Telecoms companies will also be told to stop using Huawei in fixed-line fibre broadband within the next two years.

Dowden said the UK would be on an “irreversible path” for the complete removal of Huawei equipment from its 5G networks by the time of the next general election, currently scheduled for 2024.

Chi Onwurah of the opposition Labour party told lawmakers the government had been “incomprehensibly negligent” with its approach to 5G, Huawei and national security until making the decision, describing the situation as an economic “car crash” that “could have been visible from outer space.”

With faster data and increased capacity, 5G will become the nervous system of the future economy – carrying data on everything from global financial flows to critical infrastructure such as energy, defence and transport.

After Australia first recognised the destructive power of 5G if hijacked by a hostile state, the West has become steadily more worried about Huawei.

(Production: Ben Dangerfield)

Huawei executive’s extradition trial gets under way in Canada

UNTV News   •   January 21, 2020

Meng Wanzhou steps out of her car upon arriving at the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 20 January 2020. EPA-EFE/STR

Toronto – The extradition trial of the chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei kicked off on Monday in the western Canadian city of Vancouver.

Meng Wanzhou is being sought by the United States on charges that she committed bank fraud and violated US sanctions on Iran by misleading banks about the business Huawei allegedly carried out in that Middle Eastern country through a subsidiary called Skycom.

The proceedings at the Supreme Court of British Columbia began at 9 am local time and are being presided over by Judge Heather Holmes.

Attorneys for the 47-year-old Meng are expected to argue that the accusation she faces in the US does not constitute a crime in Canada because Ottawa removed sanctions on Iran in 2016.

If the court agrees, the legal concept of “double criminality” will prevent her from being extradited.

The trial is initially scheduled to last four days, but it could take much longer for there to be a definitive outcome.

Even if the British Columbia court rules in favor of extradition and that decision is upheld on appeal, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei could take the matter to Canada’s justice minister and attorney general, David Lametti, who has the power to deny an extradition if he deems it to be “unjust or oppressive.”

Meng’s case has sparked a diplomatic row between Canada and China.

The Huawei CFO was arrested by Canada at the request of the US on Dec. 1, 2018, in Vancouver, where she was making a stopover on a trip from Hong Kong to Mexico City.

In a multi-count indictment unsealed in January 2019, the US Department of Justice said the charges against Huawei, two Huawei affiliates (including Huawei USA and Skycom) and Meng “relate to a long-running scheme by Huawei, its CFO, and other employees to deceive numerous global financial institutions and the US government regarding Huawei’s business activities in Iran.”

“As alleged in the indictment, beginning in 2007, Huawei employees lied about Huawei’s relationship to a company in Iran called Skycom, falsely asserting it was not an affiliate of Huawei.”

After Meng’s arrest, China froze diplomatic and trade relations with Canada and accused that North American country of violating the human rights of one of its citizens.

Shortly after her arrest, Beijing also apprehended two Canadian citizens – former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor – and continues to hold them on charges of endangering China’s national security.

Canada has launched an international diplomatic campaign aimed at securing the release of Kovrig and Spavor, further increasing tensions with Chinese authorities.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia released Meng on 10 million Canadian dollars ($7.6 million) in bail on Dec. 11, 2018.

Meng, who is assumed to be the heiress of a fortune valued in the billions of dollars, currently is living with her family in one of two mansions she owns in Vancouver.

Under her bail conditions, Meng must wear a GPS ankle bracelet and pay for her own 24/7 surveillance. EFE-EPA

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