Huawei hacked BSNL network, govt tells House

Huawei hacked BSNL network, govt tells House

Amid cautioning by experts on using Chinese companies equipments by domestic telecom firms, the Centre on Wednesday informed the Parliament that Chinese telecom giant Huawei hacked state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited’s (BSNL) network and the government is probing the issue.

“An incident about alleged hacking of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited network by Huawei, a Chinese telecom equipment maker, has come to notice.The government has constituted an inter-ministerial team to investigate the matter,” Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology Killi Kruparani informed the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

There were reports of a mobile tower being impacted a few months ago in coastal area of Andhra Pradesh that was attributed to hacking by the company’s engineers. However, in a written reply, the Minister did not share any detail of the incident.

BSNL had awarded a major part of its network expansion tender of about 10.15 million lines to another Chinese company ZTE in 2012. Huawei was also top contender in this bid but the company declined to supply equipments at low price quoted by ZTE.

Earlier, several political leaders and experts have apprehended that using telecom equipment from Chinese firms could threaten domestic telecom network due to possible installation of spy software by the companies.

In 2012, a Parliamentary committee had recommended that the government test the telecom equipment for security, against the backdrop of Chinese companies becoming biggest suppliers of hardware and software to Indian firms.

The panel has suggested that the government consider the United States model of auditing telecom equipments that can have serious security implications.

In 2012, a committee of US lawmakers on intelligence warned of cyber espionage threats from telecom networks built by Chinese companies and suggested that American companies considering to do business with Huawei and ZTE should look for other vendors. However, the charges were strongly denied by both the Chinese companies.  

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