Chinese smartphones cited by intelligence as security risk sold on US bases

23rd April 2018

Chinese-made smartphones that the heads of U.S. intelligence have urged Americans not to buy are being sold to servicemembers across Germany at on-base exchange facilities, despite concerns of data theft and espionage.

The Huawei phones, which are being sold by TKS, an Army and Air Force Exchange Service concessionary and subsidiary of Vodaphone, could be used to gather sensitive information, according to U.S. intelligence agencies. They are banned for official government use in most cases.

The Defense Department asked whether Huawei mobile phones were being sold at exchange facilities but has not offered any other direction, said AAFES senior spokesman Chris Ward.

“We responded ‘yes’ and have had no other inquiries,” Ward said in an email response. “Should there be an official determination made by law enforcement officials that these phones present a security risk, the Exchange will instruct its vendors to remove impacted products from their assortment.”

Officials at Ramstein Air Base, where Europe’s largest exchange and a TKS concessionary operate, said they are aware that the phones are being sold on base.

Although officials did not address Huawei specifically, they said that servicemembers should adhere to operational security standards when they post anything online, take pictures or configure their location settings.

“Servicemembers need to pay attention,” said Lt Col. Joel Harper, 86th Airlift Wing spokesman. “Regardless of where the device is purchased, on base or off base, servicemembers should practice good (operational security).”

In February, the director of national intelligence, along with the heads of the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency testified before a Senate committee that Americans should not use Huawei products because of the security risks they pose.

The concern about Huawei first focused on routers, switches and other high-bandwidth commercial products but later expanded to consumer mobile phones.

FBI Director Christopher Wray testified that Huawei products provide the Chinese government with the ability to maliciously modify or steal information and to conduct undetected espionage.

“We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks,” Wray said.

 

 

source/read more: https://www.stripes.com/news/chinese-smartphones-cited-by-intelligence-as-security-risk-sold-on-us-bases-1.523519

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