Pentagon Bans Huawei and ZTE Devices from Bases

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The US has turned up the pressure on Chinese technology firms after the Department of Defense ordered all military bases to stop selling Huawei and ZTE devices out of security concerns.

The Pentagon is also said to be considering whether to follow this up with an advisory for all armed force personnel.

“Huawei and ZTE devices may pose an unacceptable risk to the department’s personnel, information and mission. In light of this information, it was not prudent for the department’s exchanges to continue selling them,” an official statement sent to the Wall Street Journal read.

The move comes after Verizon and AT&T dropped distribution deals for Huawei handsets after alleged pressure from Washington while Best Buy also announced earlier this year that it won’t be selling any gadgets from the world’s second largest smartphone maker.

Huawei and ZTE have long been viewed with suspicion by US lawmakers who believe that their close ties to Beijing mean products could be backdoored by Chinese intelligence agencies to spy on foreign targets.

In 2012 a congressional report banned the duo from competing for US telecoms infrastructure projects.

Separately, ZTE was forced to pay a near$900m fine after breaking US sanctions on Iran. By breaking the terms of the settlement deal it was then subjected to a crippling blow: no US component makers can sell to the firm for seven years.

Huawei is now under investigation for a similar offense, leading to speculation of reprisals from China as the prospect of a tech trade war between the two superpowers grows.

David Pearson, principal threat researcher at Awake Security, claimed the heightened security concerns over Chinese handsets highlights the need to gain network-level visibility into all unmanaged devices.

“Concerned organizations should be aware that attackers have a much harder time covering up their actions on the network. With unmanaged devices, suspicious behavior today is most often caught by analysts performing network traffic analysis,” he added.

“Moreover, mobile apps are extremely noisy and borderline careless with the data that they send over the wire — many times in plaintext or very simply encoded — so the risk is not just from the device. Those worried about potential risk from ZTE and Huawei phones should ensure they have network detection and response capabilities, since trying to prevent those types of devices from entering their network maybe easier said than done.”

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