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)