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Huawei security chief: We pose no greater risk to US than any other foreign telecom company

Key Points
  • Andy Purdy says the U.S. government should implement risk mitigation programs for Huawei like it does for Nokia and Ericsson.
  • However, he did say that national security threats from bad actors are real. That's why Huawei tests "the products of all vendors to international standards."
Potential threats to US communications are very real: Security expert

The chief security officer of Huawei USA told CNBC on Wednesday that the Chinese technology giant poses no greater threat to U.S. national security than other foreign telecommunications companies.

Andy Purdy, a former top cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security, appeared on "Squawk Box" ahead of word that the White House was expected to unveil a new rule to ban federal agencies from buying equipment or services from Huawei.

In May, the Trump administration placed Huawei on the so-called U.S. Entity List, which restricts U.S. companies from selling parts to Huawei, which relies on components from several American firms.

Purdy said the U.S. government should implement risk mitigation programs for Huawei like it does for Finland-based Nokia and Sweden-based Ericsson. He contended that those two companies also have "deep ties to China."

Other nations, like Germany and the United Kingdom, are taking those steps so Huawei can do business there, he said.

President Donald Trump and lawmakers on Capitol Hill have expressed concerns that if Huawei were to get a foothold in U.S. markets for smartphones and next-generation 5G wireless networks, the communist Chinese government could use Huawei equipment for spying.

Such claims are baseless, said Purdy — stressing that while in China, Huawei is a privately owned company.

Purdy also responded to comments made Tuesday on CNBC by Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn, who said, without providing evidence, that "Huawei embeds that spyware into these networks; these chips are so small you cannot detect them until they begin to transmit to an outside receptor. At that point, they are into your network and they are spying on you."

"There were no allegations of significant cybersecurity wrongdoing against Huawei," said Purdy.

However, he did say that national security threats from bad actors are real. That's why Huawei tests "the products of all vendors to international standards, so that there's trust through verification," he added.

Senator Marsha Blackburn explains why she thinks Huawei is a security risk
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