Chinese networking company Huawei has proposed the build of a cyber security evaluation centre in Australia to settle speculation over its links with the Chinese Government.
Huawei Australia chairman John Lord told the National Press Club today that such a facility would “test the security credentials of technologies being implemented into critical infrastructure projects.
“As information and communications technology plays an increasingly significant function in critical infrastructure projects around the world, all nations will need to take a step in this direction at some point.”
He said the centre could be funded by vendors themselves and operated or overseen by security-cleared Australian nationals to assure transparency of all equipment.
He was unsure how much a centre would cost or whether Huawei's competitors would back his initiative.
“The cost would depend on the sophistication required to set it up and I don’t have that information,” he said. “We have not spoken to other vendors, yet – nor the Chinese."
Lord added that Huawei’s approach was similar to proposals put forward by Microsoft and the Telecommunications Industry Association of America.
He said that Governments recognise their dependency on IT products developed in a global supply chain.
"It is almost impossible to guarantee total cyber security," he said. "You have to identify critical information and critical infrastructure and protect that.”
He said this approach would assure the Australian Government - regardless of what vendor wins a given contract - that it can check the security credentials of the equipment provided.
Mr Lord said negative US Committee reports on Huawei had little substance and should be seen as calls for more protectionism rather than security.
“We sincerely hope that in Australia, we do not allow sober debate on cyber security to become distorted the way it has in the US,” he said.
Lord said he was disappointed that the Australian Government barred Huawei from bidding for NBN Co contracts.
“We have accepted the Government’s decision and we have moved on. Of course we stand at the ready if the situation changes, but we respect the government’s right to make such determinations.”