The National Security Administration hacked Chinese networking giant Huawei and apparently gained access to the company’s source code, according to documents seen by The New York Times and the German publication Spiegel Online.
These latest leaked documents indicate that the NSA began an operation called “Shotgiant” against Huawei, the world’s second largest supplier of networking equipment behind U.S.-based Cisco Systems.
The U.S. has long been concerned that Huawei’s products were being used as a Trojan Horse enabling the Chinese government to spy on the networking company’s customers. Now, it appears that the U.S. government simply cut out the middleman in its own efforts to monitor the goings on around Huawei.
Not only did the U.S. security agency manage to intercept emails, but it also gained access to the company’s source code of specific products, according to the Spiegel report. That’s the crown jewels of any tech company — laid bare by America’s technology espionage apparatus.
Luckily for concerned netizens and corporations a spokeswoman for the U.S. assured the Times that any spying was only done for national security purposes.
“We do not give intelligence we collect to U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line,” White House spokesperson Caitlin M. Hayden told the Times. “Many countries cannot say the same.”
Meanwhile, the unintended comedy of the situation was not lost on Huawei, whose spokesman issued the following statement to Spiegel:
“If it is true, the irony is that exactly what they are doing to us is what they have always charged that the Chinese are doing through us,” [said Bill Plummer, Huawei spokesman]. “If such espionage has been truly conducted, then it is known that the company is independent and has no unusual ties to any government and that knowledge should be relayed publicly to put an end to an era of mis- and disinformation.”