Chinese tech company Huawei reportedly had free access to KPN’s mobile network in the past and could eavesdrop on all conversations. De Volkskrant writes this based on a secret 2010 report that their editorial team reviewed.
According to the newspaper, Huawei was able to eavesdrop on the telecom provider’s mobile phone numbers at the time. It also included the phones of then Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, various ministers and Chinese dissidents. Huawei also knew which numbers were being exploited by police and intelligence services.
Huawei says it has never acted inappropriately by abusing its position in the Netherlands. KPN says in a response that it has no indication that lines were tapped or that customer data was stolen.
KPN used Huawei technology in 2009. Six Chinese employees of the company were working at the head office in The Hague at the time. That year, the telecommunications provider asked Capgemini researchers to analyze the risks associated with Huawei and the Chinese company’s behavior within KPN. Home security service AIVD had previously warned KPN on several occasions about the risk of Huawei spying.
The findings were so alarming that the internal report was kept secret. “The continued existence of KPN Mobile is in serious jeopardy as licenses can be revoked or government and businesses can relinquish their trust in KPN if it is known that the Chinese government can eavesdrop on KPN mobile numbers and shut down the network, ”de Volkskrant quotes the report. At the time, KPN’s mobile network had 6.5 million subscribers.
Unauthorized access from China
The Capgemini report said Huawei staff, both in KPN buildings and in China, could eavesdrop on unauthorized, uncontrolled and unlimited KPN mobile numbers. The company has obtained unauthorized access to the core of the mobile network from China. It is unclear how often this happened as it has not been recorded anywhere.
KPN informed the ANP news source on Saturday that “it has never been established in all years that customer data has been stolen by Huawei from our networks or customer systems, or that it has been exploited.” . If so, the company said it would “certainly have informed the relevant authorities and our customers.”
“Huawei employees did not have unauthorized access to KPN’s network and data, nor did they extract data from that network. Huawei has always worked under the explicit permission of KPN, ”the Chinese tech company said. “This applied to both Huawei employees and Huawei employees hired by KPN to support its business.”
“Since our debut in the Netherlands 15 years ago, we have never been held accountable by government authorities for unauthorized acts,” Huawei said in a statement released on Saturday.
Based on the Capgemini report, KPN has decided to refrain from outsourcing the full maintenance of the mobile core network. To this day, the telecommunications company maintains its core mobile network itself, with the help of Western providers. To deal with risks in network systems, KPN said it is implementing an improvement plan.
De Volkskrant reported last month that the Chinese company also had unlimited access to customer data at KPN’s subsidiary Telfort, and Huawei also denied at the time that its staff acted unethically at any time. .