Huawei And U.S. Spying: 'Snowden Revelations Level Playing Field On Both Sides'


Eric Xu, Huawei
Eric Xu, rotating CEO of Huawei, at the Huawei Global Analyst Summit 2014

Huawei is publicly remaining coy about reports that the U.S. National Security Agency hacked the Chinese tech giant's software as a way to gather information about its customers and technology.

However, Huawei employees, who have for years been fending off concerns from the U.S. government and competitors like Cisco that Huawei is a conduit for Chinese government spying activities, are off the record quite happy at the turnaround accusations.

The New York Times and the German-based Spiegel in March reported that secret NSA documents released by Edward Snowden, a former employee of an NSA contractor, revealed moves by the U.S. spy organization to infiltrate Huawei to gather information on customers and to break Huawei's software source code.

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Security issues have not necessarily been a deal-breaker for channel partners, although the question of whether Huawei's equipment poses a security threat does come up, said Steve Rovarino, president of Red Rover, a Reno, Nev.-based solution provider and Huawei partner.

"Customers talk about security," Rovarino said. "It eventually comes up in the conversation. It may not be with the initial person we talk to, but when it goes through budget, the question comes up. Some projects get delayed, and some cancelled. Most of these predated the NSA situation, before it came to light."

For customers who keep up with the Huawei situation, the NSA news balances the security question, Rovarino said.

"They joke about who is watching who[m]," he said. "But there has been a lot more bad news about Huawei over the years than the one thing from the NSA. But customers look at technology and price, and if they're open-minded, they eventually come around."

Security is not an issue that has impeded sales, said Don Hows, manager of online and distribution channels for Daystrom Technology Group, a Half Moon Bay, Calif.-based solution provider and Huawei storage partner.

"If anyone gave the stories about Huawei's security credibility, it hasn't been an issue in storage," Hows said. "Storage is at the end of the line. It's not like putting in core switches where the risk is more of a potential issue."

Eric Xu, rotating CEO of Huawei, said during a question-and-answer period after his keynote at the Huawei Global Analyst Summit, held last week in Shenzhen, China, that there were both "good and bad impacts" from what were termed at the event the "Snowden revelations."

NEXT: Huawei Cites Good, Bad Impacts From The NSA Revelations