Huawei Technologies Building

Episode 149: How Real is the Huawei Risk?

In this episode of the podcast we’re joined by Priscilla Moriuchi of the firm Recorded Future, which released a report this week analyzing the security risks posed by Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications and technology giant.

In recent months, the Trump Administration has made the technology and telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies a poster child for its assault on China’s anti-competitive practices.

The Shenzen maker of everything from networking equipment to smart phones, Huawei has over $100 billion in sales and 180,000 employees globally. It is a key participant in China’s ambitious Belt and Road initiative to develop and modernize a broad swath of Africa, Asia and even Europe.

Priscilla Moriuchi Recorded Future
Priscilla Moriuchi is the Director of Strategic Threat Development at Recorded Future

Western doubts about Huawei’s intentions are nothing new. Silicon Valley competitors and lawmakers have long warned about Huawei’s business practices and the ties of the company and its founder Ren Zhengfei’s ties to the Chinese Military and the Communist Party. 

The Trump Administration has ratcheted up the pressure on the company, indicting 10 senior executives on charges of theft of trade secrets and warning U.S. government agencies and allied not to use Huawei’s technology and warning companies that do business with the US government to beware. There’s evidence that the warnings are having an impact, especially in countries closely aligned with the U.S.

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But China’s government has retaliated: warning US and western firms about the dangers of participating in Washington’s ban. That leave businesses in a pinch. But  our guest this week suggests that they may do well to be wary of Huawei, regardless of what the US Government and the Trump Administration says. 

Priscilla Moriuchi is the director of strategic threat development at Recorded Future. In a report released this week, Moriuchi and Recorded Future warn that Huawei’s risk to western companies is more than just a hypothetical. The company is unique because of the breadth of its technology portfolio – everything from undersea cables to smart phones. By extension, that makes it unique in the breadth of data that it collects from customers world-wide. Today – or at any point in the future -that data could prove irresistible to a Communist Party interested in lifting China’s stature as a global superpower and wary of democratic values like free expression and freedom of association, Moriuchi says. 

A map showing undersea cables that Huawei has laid or upgraded in recent years as part of a joint venture with a UK company, Global Marine. (Image courtesy of Recorded Future.)

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In this conversation, I talk with Priscilla about the new Recorded Future report, the ongoing dispute between the US and China over Huawei and about how companies caught in the middle should respond. 

As always,  you can check our full conversation in our latest Security Ledger podcast at Blubrry. You can also listen to it on iTunes and check us out on SoundCloudStitcherRadio Public and more. Also: if you enjoy this podcast, consider signing up to receive it in your email. Just point your web browser to to get notified whenever a new podcast is posted. 


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  2. To hold this discussion – or producing a report – without once mentioning the role cryptography plays in protecting data, borders on the irresponsible. It makes no difference whether the equipment is from Cisco, Huawei, Intel, etc. If the content is encrypted – as any sensitive data should be – then it is not at all vulnerable to the entire argument on which this recent Huawei media storm is based.

    The report from Recorded Future does not once mention cryptography, which neatly allows them to promote their US government trade war agenda against Huawei. Pauls’ interview and article is equally bent for the lack of injecting the cryptography component to offset or entirely eliminate the nonsense promoted by the report.