UK Think They Can Mitigate Huawei Risks

(CNN) UK spies think they can handle Huawei in 5G networks. The US doesn’t agree.

The Brits are wrong, the U.S. is right. Quoting,

The National Cyber Security Centre declined to comment Monday on the specifics of the Financial Times report but said in a statement that it has “a unique oversight and understanding of Huawei engineering and cyber security.”

“Unique oversight”  suggests that the Brits have intelligence assets inside Huawei. That doesn’t mean they always will. Neither does it rule out the possibility that the Chinese will at some point play what in the intelligence trade is called a deception game with those assets. One of the many ironies of this British choice is the Cambridge Five. But the spy business is a high risk game. There’s no point in building the same risk into your infrastructure.

The specifics are discussed in Huawei, Security, and British GCHQ. This is the layman’s takeaway: Nothing which is now true need stay that way. The risk is analogous to inviting someone with a long rap sheet  to share your flat. But this is common sense.

Yet common sense can be  a defective approach to problem solving. Most of the time, expertise punches holes in common sense. This time, it’s the reverse. To wit,

  • A smartphone is a sophisticated computer. Infrastructure, such Huawei would be contracted to supply, has immense digital complexity.
  • Computers are hacked all the time.
  • Brits, like everybody else, have been hacked ad infinitum.
  • The man-on-the-street conclusion: It’s nuts to let Huawei in.

U.K. politicians, afraid of China’s immense economic clout, have pressured U.K. specialists charged with security to come up with a solution, which they call “mitigation.” This is like mitigating cancer. Let’s skip the Big C  entirely.

The Brits are inviting the endless game of scissors-paper-rock, Huawei-common sense-specialists and around we go.

(The Diplomat) Pompeo Warns European Partners That US May Scale Back Cooperation Over Huawei Concerns. This is unfortunately justified, whether you are more or less of an internationalist than Mike Pompeo.

This time, you just can’t beat common sense.