Alarm in Germany: DB to work with Huawei

Karel Novak, Published on 13/03/2023
Alarm in Germany: DB to work with Huawei

DB chooses Huawei technology to digitise rail network, critics fear could allow Beijing to disrupt railways.

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn awarded a 64 million euro ($67.79 million) contract last December to supply most of the components for its new IP network to a company using technology from China's Huawei, Reuters reported.

The IP network will provide the backbone of a new digital infrastructure that will allow state-owned DB (DBN.UL) to remotely control all operations on one of Europe's largest rail networks.

The move comes after the US government and the European Commission banned their employees from using the Chinese social network Tik Tok due to potential security risks.

A DB spokesman told Reuters it was following the authorities' recommendations, but under current IT security legislation it was not required to have network components operated by Germany's cyber security agency, the BSI, unlike public telecoms network operators. It said it was up to the contractor - in this case Deutsche Telekom Business Solutions, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE) - to choose the components.

A spokesman for the BSI said it was not aware of any law that defined DB's IT systems as "critical components".

Security experts in many countries say Huawei's close ties to China's security services mean that using its technology could give Chinese spies and even saboteurs access to swathes of vital infrastructure.

German weekly Die Zeit reported this week, citing government sources, that the German government plans to ban operators of fifth-generation (5G) mobile networks from using components made by Chinese firms ZTE and Huawei.

The December contract with Deutsche Telekom Business Solutions covers Huawei technology such as switches and routers. These contain software that needs to be regularly updated remotely, potentially allowing malicious updates, cybersecurity experts told Reuters.



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