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Vodafone found hidden backdoors in Huawei equipment, says report

The carrier said the issues were resolved in 2011 and 2012, according to Bloomberg.

BRITAIN-CHINA-POLITICS-SECUTIRY-TELECOM-HUAWEI

Huawei routers apparently had some historical vulnerabilities.

Adrian Dennis / AFP / Getty Images

Vodafone apparently discovered hidden backdoors in Huawei equipment as far back as 2011.

The UK-based carrier found vulnerabilities in routers and other equipment that could have given scandal-scarred Chinese company Huawei unauthorized access to Vodafone's network in Italy, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

Both Vodafone and Huawei told Bloomberg that these vulnerabilities were addressed in 2011 and 2012.

However, the outlet reported that the vulnerabilities remained after that and could also be found in Vodafone's UK, German, Spanish and Portuguese businesses, citing anonymous sources. Vodafone apparently kept using Huawei equipment because it was competitively priced.

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Vodafone disputed the report in an emailed statement, saying the "backdoor" mentioned is a protocol used to perform diagnostic functions and wouldn't have been accessible from the internet.

"In addition, we have no evidence of any unauthorized access. This was nothing more than a failure to remove a diagnostic function after development," the spokesperson wrote. "The issues were identified by independent security testing, initiated by Vodafone as part of our routine security measures, and fixed at the time by Huawei."

Huawei mirrored this statement, noting that it addressed the "historical vulnerabilities" in 2011 and 2012.

"Software vulnerabilities are an industry-wide challenge," a spokesperson said via email. "Like every ICT vendor we have a well-established public notification and patching process, and when a vulnerability is identified we work closely with our partners to take the appropriate corrective action."

Bloomberg didn't immediately respond to a request for further comment.

The story comes as China urges Britain to let Huawei play a role in developing its next-generation 5G wireless network, even as the US pressures its European allies not to adopt Huawei's 5G equipment. US officials have said the gear could be used to spy for China. Huawei denies the allegations.