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Sunday, 29 March 2009

BT's 21CN could be potentially vulnerable to attack

I guess on a good day, I would have entitled this piece, "Why no-one should rely on BT to deliver next gen" but am trying to learn to be more diplomatic for Lent!!

Driving home tonight in the wee hours from Alnwick (that's in the, literally, frozen North of England), I heard a piece on R4 from a Sunday Times journo about a secret meeting held in January about the possible vulnerability of BT's 21CN because Huawei (who won the contract ahead of Marconi) have equipped certain areas of the all new glittering network, and some security chiefs etc are a tad concerned anout UK security.

Whilst relationships with China are currently good, this is considered to be a low risk issue. However, Huawei is run by the ex-head of the Red Army telecoms research arm, and allegedly funded by the Chinese state, both factors which should possibly have sounded several alarm bells when consideration was given to whom the contract for 21CN key components was awarded. Particularly when the other company in the running was British.

The full Sunday Times article about the possible cyberthreat to not just British comms and 21CN, but to vital services and even the British economy, should give pause for thought.

And meanwhile, for those of who don't believe that this country should sit around and wait for BT to deliver next gen, somewhen in the future, and only to those places it deems "financially viable", and therefore continue the monopoly we have suffered for so long, well, I have to admit, I cheered at the news. It really does IMHO give ever more power to JFDI, and community and mutually owned infrastructure supplied, used and owned by 'local' companies and communities. We are perfectly capable of it here in this country, and within the EU (without looking further afield), and the delivery of true broadband should most definitely not just be about 'far cheaper tenders' and hence profit or faster ROI to shareholders. Particularly not when it could cause long term, major problems for UK plc by compromising the nation's security.

Oh yeah, and just to link up two breaking stories: Canadian and British researchers find a massive electronic spy network which has allegedly been used for spying on approx 100 countries over the last 2 years, and where the computers are also allegedly mainly based in China. At a guess, if true, the location was probably chosen 'cos they have pretty damned good broadband over there!! It'd never work if they tried setting it up here in the UK..........

1 comment:

Mark P said...

I have to laugh at this - firstly for the scare mongering by our so-called 'security services' and secondly because virtually every major carrier in the world has some Huawei equipment at some point in their network so should they all be worried that China is about to turn off the world???

On a slightly more serious note when FT were in the process of making selections for their 21CN equivalent a certain Chinese vendor was widely tipped to be the major winner, however the French government stepped in and ruled them out due to rumours that the Chinese military had been hacking into governments around the world including France!

So, JFDI - yep but try not to rely too much on local authorities to support or assist (as I am in the process of finding out). Ba$£*d politicians!