Huawei denies installing backdoor at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Chinese IT vendor Huawei has moved to deny accusations that the company installed backdoor at the Africa Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A backdoor refers to a method by which authorized and unauthorized users can get around normal security measures and gain high level user access (or root access) on a computer system, network or software application.

The new headquarters, opened in 2012, were funded by the Chinese government to the tune of US $200 million.

(TOP: The AU headquarters in Ethiopia).

As the IT contractor for the complex, Huawei has for long been accused of secretly accessing data from the AU computers and then transferring the data to Chinese servers at night, claims the company has for long refuted.

In a statement, Huawei said that it has never installed a back-door at the AU.

“Huawei  proud history of delivering world class information and communications technology solutions in Africa. In our 30-year history and work in more than 170 countries and regions, Huawei has never installed a back-door; security is critical to everything we do. Allegations about impropriety with our customer, the African Union (AU) are completely unsubstantiated, and we vehemently reject any such claims,” the company said.

The firm stated that its involvement in the data center infrastructure for the AU headquarters in Ethiopia included two solutions, neither of which accessed customer or business data. The solutions provided to the AU was controlled, managed and operated by the organization’s IT staff and Huawei had no access to AU data.

Huawei further added that as part of its collaboration with the African Union, it supplied Layer 1 telecoms equipment that carries operational data related to the hardware itself, such as cabinets and cooling systems while the other VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) solution provided the devices, displays, storage equipment, and servers. A benefit of this solution, the company noted, was that core business data was not stored or processed on the equipment.

“Today, a small amount of the AU’s non-core business data is stored on Huawei servers and storage equipment, but this is owned and managed centrally by the AU operational and maintenance staff. Huawei does not provide the equipment used for the AU’s intranet or extranet,” the statement noted.

To further exonerate itself from any accusations, Huawei said that Moussa Faki, the chairperson of the AU Commission, and the former PM of Ethiopia Hailemariam Desalegn, both vehemently denied reports in the media and elsewhere that data was maliciously stolen from the African Union and are clear that reports to the contrary are untrue and damaging to both Huawei and the African Union.


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