Saturday, June 05, 2010

India - Govt to consult operators on security of Chinese manufacturers

[the hindu] In a bid to address security related concerns around procuring telecom network equipment from the Chinese manufacturers, the Government will start a consultation process with the operators within a week.

On Friday, the Government said that it was contemplating certain amendments in the conditions of license for Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) and shall be issuing necessary instructions to help them address security threats in their networks in short term, medium term and long term future. The Department of Telecommunications said that the consultation with stake holders will be initiated to evolve workable solution. “The Government has been working on security concerns in telecom sector to address the security threats/vulnerabilities of telecom networks. It considers that TSPs should have well outlined organisational policy on security and security management of their networks and they should be completely and totally responsible for security of their networks,” said an official press statement.

The Government had earlier made it mandatory for operators to take security clearance before buying any key telecom gear. The security agencies are concerned that equipment from foreign countries, especially China, may have spyware or malware that allow agencies outside the country to control the communication network from a remote location. As a result of this new rule, DoT has been very selective in giving approvals for gear purchase. Applications involving Chinese manufacturers have all been rejected so far. For the last 6 months, there has been no major equipment purchase deal as a result of the security norms. This is affecting the mobile operator's network roll out and also quality of service as a result of capacity constraints.

Many operators, including Tata Teleservices, have written to the Government to relax the norms or find alternative solution to ensure that the telecom networks are secure. The industry has given a number of suggestions including asking the Chinese vendors to share source code and rope in international certification agencies.

The latest move from the Government to call for a consultation could be a way to give some room to the operators to go ahead with the network purchase in the short term even as a security certification authority is identified.

Security issues: Govt to consult telecom operators

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