By Jerry Wang, CEO, Huawei UK
Over the last year, Huawei has been the subject of relentless innuendo. The company has been targeted by a sustained campaign of ill-informed accusations that its involvement in 5G infrastructure somehow poses a threat to the nation.
What’s the best response when faced with suspicion, hostility and doubt? Transparency. The only sure way to win trust is through openness, honesty and by proving that there is nothing to hide. So Huawei has thrown open its inner workings to scrutiny – which, at times, can be a painful process.
Uniquely in the technology industry, Huawei has provided complete access to an independent team to scrutinise every aspect of our software, source code and internal processes. The Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) comprises 38 security cleared UK nationals, overseen by the Government, who have a backstage pass to ask, view and analyse anything they choose.
Jerry Wang, Chief Executive Officer, Huawei UK
Last week, HCSEC’s Oversight Board produced its annual findings. The report levelled criticism at technical issues in Huawei’s software engineering processes, which, as Huawei’s UK Chief Executive, I take extremely seriously. But it explicitly stated that it had found no evidence of Chinese state interference. And it found that UK networks are no more vulnerable than they were a year ago.
This is ‘arguably the toughest and most rigorous’ oversight regime for any telecom vendor anywhere in the world, and those are not my words - but the words in the 2019 report. Huawei is the only technology provider willing to subject its source code to review against such high standards.
We accept the board’s findings and we acknowledge that there are issues that need to be put right. So the Huawei group board has committed to a USD$2 billion transformation programme aimed at enhancing our software capabilities. This is a huge endeavour. We need to change mindsets, strengthen the defensive capabilities of our products and delve deep into the architecture of everything we do, even our culture.
Our founder, Ren Zhengfei, has always committed to putting cyber security and privacy at the top of our agenda, above any commercial interests. But this five year transformation will be tough. It will take time to set out the details: $2 billion is a major commitment and we need to invest it wisely to get this right.
To those who criticize us, I say this. Huawei has been in business for 30 years without any major security lapses. Citigal, a US specialist in evaluating software security, assesses companies across the industry across 12 different indicators. Huawei has performed above the industry average in all 12, and is at the highest level attainable in nine of them.
Problems with other vendors’ equipment have led to network outages in the UK. And in the US, over the past two years, a series of major malware attacks, vulnerabilities and cyber security incidents have caused major disruption – yet not a single one of these incidents has had anything to do with Huawei.
Huawei has been in the UK for 18 years. We employ over 1,500 people here and support a further 6,000 jobs through our supply chain. We’ve committed to spending £3 billion with UK suppliers over the next five years and through our “Seeds for the Future” initiative, we’re working with universities to train and develop skills for a new generation of British engineers.
Use of mobile data is growing at a rate of 46% annually. An upgrade from 4G to 5G technology will not only be beneficial – it is absolutely necessary in keeping British businesses competitive, in powering the next generation of connected services and in enhancing download speeds for consumers. Huawei can deliver that upgrade better and faster than anybody else.
The European Union has said it will not discriminate against any country, or any company from a specific country. We welcome this approach. All we ask for is fair and open-minded treatment.
Last month, I joined 30 of our employees in running the Reading half marathon – and it was a true pleasure to be greeted by cheers as we reached the finish line in the Madejski stadium. We are investing in our local communities and we are here to stay. And I recognise that the debate we’re involved in will be more of a marathon than a sprint.
My pledge to Britain is this: if people find flaws with Huawei, we will listen, act and put things right. But criticism must be rooted in evidence and any meaningful dialogue must be based on facts.