Cloudhopper and Huawei, Two Issues To Be Resolved by Germany’s
BSI, Germany’s Information Security agency has warned German companies to be alert to possible cyber attacks originating from mainland China. Unlike the United States and its allies like Canada, Japan, and the UK, Germany is not known as a target of cyber attacks for at least two years. However, given that the U.S. and China are squaring off in their ‘trade war’ for quite a while, anti-China media reports have been circulating the Internet, painting the latter as opportunistic and protective of its economic interest vs the west. One example of the fall-out is the massive propaganda against Huawei, global network equipment and mobile phone vendor based in China.
The United States has a very strong influence with the flow of information coming from the western media, ignoring the fact that the U.S. itself is allegedly behind the Prism espionage project as revealed by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor in 2012. The reality in the world of economics and cybersecurity is all states that have a capability with cyber warfare are engaging in cyber warfare for quite a while. This is the new normal, that while powerful nations are engaging with healthy bilateral and multilateral relations, they also maintain their own army of hackers to protect the nation’s interest in comparison to their rival nations.
U.S. Intelligence has linked China as the perpetrator behind an espionage activity they dubbed as ‘Cloudhopper’. As per U.S. Intelligence agency’s claim, Cloudhopper is designed to infiltrate server farms of US-based firms and some of its agencies. There is a small possibility for Cloudhopper to change its target, away from the United States to Europe, particularly nations that are known for having less cyber defense capabilities than the U.S.
Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security Chief, Arne Schönbohm, tries to help secure German firms for whatever eventual cyber attacks they may endure in the future, but banning a certain Chinese company from the country for just an allegation is not enough. “For such serious decisions as a ban, you need evidence,” emphasized Schönbohm. Germany, even as a member of the EU which usually mimics U.S. policies towards China has a mind on its own.
The country is not part of ‘Five Eyes’, the strong block of countries with allied intelligence network service. “Five Eyes” includes the countries Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United States, and Great Britain. The five influential states keep downplaying China and its importance in the worldwide telecommunication industry. Their repeated concerns that manufacturers’ products such as Huawei and ZTE are a blatant security risk, and that corporations could be of service to the Beijing government in espionage. The warnings are also reflected in political decisions – more and more governments ban Chinese telecom equipment suppliers from their mobile networks. In addition to the US and Australia, New Zealand has recently decided to exclude Huawei from a specific 5G project from Spark, “due to significant national security risks”.
Behind the scenes, the United States, in particular, is vigorously trying to persuade other states to take this step – including Germany. With Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica all major network operators in this country Huawei technology in use. Also, on the smartphone market, the Chinese are doing well in business: The best-selling device in Germany was last from Huawei.