Chinese electronics manufacturer Huawei decided to withdraw from U.S. business last year amid accusations that it built backdoors into American government and business systems. But while the U.S. government was publicly accusing the company of espionage, the NSA had already established its own backdoors into Huawei's networks, say Der Spiegel and The New York Times.
Newly revealed NSA documents show that NSA project "Shotgiant" had access to the company's main office network in Shenzhen since January 2009. The agency was able to eavesdrop on internal email communications, including those from company CEO Ren Zhengfei and Chairwoman Sun Yafang, and access the source code of numerous Huawei products.
Documents leaked by Edward Snowden, and viewed by The Times and Der Spiegel, indicate the NSA hoped to access networking equipment that Huawei sold to foreign governments, in an effort to spy on both allies and enemies. The Times quotes the NSA documents:
"Many of our targets communicate over Huawei-produced products [...] We want to make sure that we know how to exploit these products, [to] gain access to networks of interest" around the world.
"We currently have good access and so much data that we don't know what to do with it," states an internal document quoted by Der Spiegel.
While Huawei is retreating from the U.S. market, the company claims its industrial routers and other telecommunications equipment connects one third of the world's population. [Der Spiegel; NYTimes via The Verge]