MLI Munk Senior Fellow Christian Leuprecht joined Hal Roberts on Bridge City News to outline exactly why Huawei poses a real threat to Canadian national security.
According to Leuprecht, people often have a poor understanding of the world of cyber security. As a consequence, many Canadians have difficulty truly grasping the nature of the threat posed by companies like Huawei.
Leuprecht explains that, at its most basic level, internet systems are built on a small number of “hierarchical switches” through which web traffic flows. These switches can provide back doors through which traffic can be intercepted, stolen, or otherwise interfered with.
“The concern here is that whoever provides equipment for those top-level switches could ostensibly try to manipulate those switches to their advantage,” argues Leuprecht. “The debate here is on whether a company that is closely linked with a country that is [in some ways] an adversary… should have unfettered access to the most critical parts of our communications infrastructure.”
It is also important to note that Huawei’s record raises eyebrows among many security experts and agencies.
“Huawei has a 30-year track record of poor competitive behaviour, particularly when it comes to intellectual property.”
Leuprecht describes the case of Nortel, a Canadian telecommunication company that was a victim of intellectual property theft. As it turns out, Huawei developed equipment eerily similar to Nortel, right down to the instruction manuals, before Nortel was forced to file for bankruptcy. Leuprecht argues that it was intellectual property theft that is at the root of these problems.
In addition to all this, Huawei has “a dubious relationship” with China’s ruling Communist Party rank and file. Allowing such a company to participate in the development of Canada’s 5G network would result in “vulnerabilities in Canadian internet infrastructure.”