CANBERRA (Reuters) – In early 2018, in a complex of low-rise buildings in the Australian capital, a team of government hackers was engaging in a destructive digital war game.
FILE PHOTO: A man talks on his mobile phone beside Huawei’s billboard featuring 5G technology at the PT Expo in Beijing, China, September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo
The operatives – agents of the Australian Signals Directorate, the nation’s top-secret eavesdropping agency – had been given a challenge. With all the offensive cyber tools at their disposal, what harm could they inflict if they had access to equipment installed in the 5G network, the next-generation mobile communications technology, of a target nation?
What the team found, say current and former government officials, was sobering for Australian security and political leaders: The offensive potential of 5G was so great that if Australia were on the receiving end of such attacks, the country could be seriously exposed. The understanding of how 5G could be exploited for spying and to sabotage critical infrastructure changed everything for the Australians, according to people familiar with the deliberations.
Mike Burgess, the head of the signals directorate, recently explained why the security of fifth generation, or 5G, technology was so important: It will be integral to the communications at the heart of a country’s critical infrastructure – everything from electric power to water supplies to sewage, he said in a March speech at a Sydney research institute.
Washington is widely seen as having taken the initiative in the global campaign against Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, a tech juggernaut that in the three decades since its founding has become a pillar of Beijing’s bid to expand its global influence. Yet Reuters interviews with more than two dozen current and former Western officials show it was the Australians who led the way in pressing for action on 5G; that the United States was initially slow to act; and that Britain and other European countries are caught between security concerns and the competitive prices offered by Huawei.
The Australians had long harbored misgivings about Huawei in existing networks, but the 5G war game was a turning point. About six months after the simulation began, the Australian government effectively banned Huawei, the world’s largest maker of telecom networking gear, from any involvement in its 5G plans. An Australian government spokeswoman declined to comment on the war game.
After the Australians shared their findings with U.S. leaders, other countries, including the United States, moved to restrict Huawei.
The anti-Huawei campaign intensified last week, when President Donald Trump signed an executive order that effectively banned the use of Huawei equipment in U.S. telecom networks on national security grounds and the Commerce Department put limits on the firm’s purchasing of U.S. technology. Google’s parent, Alphabet, suspended some of its business with Huawei, Reuters reported.
Until the middle of last year, the U.S. government largely “wasn’t paying attention,” said retired U.S. Marine Corps General James Jones, who served as national security adviser to President Barack Obama. What spurred senior U.S. officials into action? A sudden dawning of what 5G will bring, according to Jones.
“This has been a very, very fast-moving realization” in terms of understanding the technology, he said. “I think most people were treating it as a kind of evolutionary step as opposed to a revolutionary step. And now that light has come on.”
The Americans are now campaigning aggressively to contain Huawei as part of a much broader effort to check Beijing’s growing military might under President Xi Jinping. Strengthening cyber operations is a key element in
LONDON (Reuters) – British Steel, the country’s second largest steel producer, is on the brink of collapse unless the government agrees to provide an emergency 30 million pound ($38 million) loan by later on Tuesday, two sources close to the situation said.
Owned by investment firm Greybull Capital, British Steel employs around 5,000 people, mostly in Scunthorpe, in the north of England, while 20,000 more depend on its supply chain.
Greybull, which specialises in trying to turn around distressed businesses, paid former owners Tata Steel a nominal one pound in 2016 for the loss-making company which they renamed British Steel.
British Steel had asked the government for a 75 million pound loan but has since reduced its demand to 30 million pounds after Greybull agreed to put up more money, according one of the sources, who is close to the negotiations.
Greybull was also the owner of Monarch, an airline that went bust here in October 2017.
If the British Steel loan is not approved by Tuesday afternoon,
DUBAI (Reuters) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rejected any talks with the United States and called on Tuesday for the government to be given more power to run the sanctions-hit economy in an “economic war”.
FILE PHOTO: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Feb. 14 2019. Sergei Chirikov/File Photo
President Donald Trump withdrew the United States a year ago from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and global powers under which Tehran curbed its uranium enrichment capacity, a potential pathway to a nuclear bomb, and won sanctions relief in return.
Trump restored U.S. sanctions on Iran last year and has ratcheted them up this month, ordering all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil or face sanctions
(Reuters) – Home Depot Inc reported its slowest growth in quarterly same-store sales in at least three years on Tuesday, missing Wall Street estimates, as the home improvement chain was hurt by wet weather in February and a steep fall in lumber prices.
FILE PHOTO: A Home Depot store is seen in Los Angeles, California March 17, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo
SHANGHAI/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The United States has temporarily eased trade restrictions on China’s Huawei to minimize disruption for its customers, a move the founder of the world’s largest telecoms equipment maker said meant little because it was already prepared for U.S. action.
The U.S. Commerce Department blocked Huawei Technologies from buying U.S. goods last week, a major escalation in the trade war between the world’s two top economies, saying the firm was involved in activities contrary to national security.
The two countries increased import tariffs on each other’s goods over the past two weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump said China had reneged on earlier commitments made during months of negotiations.
On Monday, the Commerce Department granted Huawei a license to buy U.S. goods until Aug. 19 to maintain existing telecoms networks and provide software updates to Huawei smartphones, a move intended to give telecom operators that rely on Huawei time to make other arrangements.
Huawei is still prohibited from buying American-made hardware and software to make new products without further, hard-to-obtain licen