Sep 23, 2019 | Updated: 11:17 AM EDT

NSA Identifies Chinese Companies As Security Risks, NZ And AU Take Action Locally

Aug 17, 2015 06:26 PM EDT

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After the US security agency NSA identified a massive hacking attack from Chinese sources, other G8 countries have followed their lead. Australia is tightening its telecommunications policies, and it is shutting out Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

The US identified a massive security breach traced to Chinese hackers in June 2015. The security breach exposed the social security numbers of millions of US federal officers, creating a major privacy and security exposure. In light of these, several other countries have taken heed and exercised caution in dealing with Chinese companies.

One of the identified companies is Huawei Technologies. Huawei, which had broken into the top 5 smartphone makers worldwide, sharing a top spot with the other dominating Chinese tech company Xiaomi, was banned from supplying telecommunications equipment in the US in 2010. In 2012, Symantec canceled an alliance with them, in fears that the alliance will jeopardize the US’ security operations. The growing security threats and concerns had gotten so bad that New Zealand’s security agency teamed up with the NSA to hack into Chinese diplomats’ communications in Auckland, in a leak exposed just this April 2015. With that, Australia has set in motion plans to ban several Chinese companies from being able to supply telecommunications infrastructure in its shores.

The new laws, written under the Telecommunications Sector Security Reform, will give the Australian government the capacity to revoke the service licenses of telco carriers should they be found to violate the new rules. This move may effectively shut out Huawei and other Chinese companies from providing Australia’s networking and telecommunications infrastructures.

Critics of the new laws were quick to point out that Australia was keen to let ZTE, another Chinese company, off the hook. According to reports, ZTE was allowed to continue its contracts in Australia. Why there was a disparity in the treatment of ZTE as opposed to Huawei has not been made clear.

Aside from the canceled deal between Huawei and Symantec, as well as the ban from upgrading the networking systems of a US telco, the US Department of Commerce also imposed a ban on selling high-powered supercomputer chips such as the Intel Xeon and Xeon Phi models to Chinese companies. They also imposed a ban on other US chipmakers who carry similar-capacity high-powered processors.

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