The New York Times and Der Spiegel have reported that the United States government and its surveillance apparatus the NSA have been spying on the internal networks of China hardware manufacturing mogul Huawei.
Huawei has spent years in the crosshairs of Washington for supposed cooperation with the Chinese government, and potentially even supplying engineers and talent to the frontline of the nation’s cyber-warfare efforts against the US and dozens of other countries around the world.
“Many of our targets communicate over Huawei-produced products,” the NSA document read, according to The Times. “We want to make sure that we know how to exploit these products,” it added, to “gain access to networks of interest” around the world.”
According to documents released exposing Operation “Shotgiant”, the program was initially utilized to discover if there were any links between the Chinese military and Huawei, although the eventual results of that investigation still remain unclear.
Both the US and Australia have banned Huawei from network infrastructure projects in their respective countries over fears of espionage, and although US-based Cisco Systems is a direct competitor with Huawei, a spokesperson for the NSA has assured NYT the surveillance has nothing to do with economic espionage.
The fact that we target foreign companies for intelligence is not part of any economic espionage. The goal of economic intelligence efforts is “to support national security interests,” and “not to try to help Boeing,” the official said.