Huawei is using software that will be unsupported from 2020, in hardware that will be used for years to come
Huawei is drawing ire in the UK over its use of third-party software in its products, which will come to end-of-life long before the hardware itself does.
As reported last month, the Oversight Board of the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) - a company-funded body that examines and test Huawei products to be used by UK telcos - said that ‘security critical third-party software used in a variety of products' are not ‘subject to sufficient control'.
It added that Huawei hardware contains third-party software, including security-critical components, that will cease long-term support in 2020, even though the Huawei products in question will be in service for much longer.
The Oversight Board is a government organisation that publishes an annual report about HCSEC's work.
A Reuters report says that Huawei buys the software in question from Wind River Systems, based in the USA - where, ironically, the Chinese vendor has also been facing increased scrutinyover security concerns.
Three sources told Reuters that Wind River Systems is responsible for developing the VxWorks operating system, and that it will not receive security updates and patches past 2020. As British telecom operators will still be using the Huawei hardware with VxWorks at that point, their networks could become vulnerable to attack.
The sources did not suggest that the software itself is a security risk - only the upcoming lack of support.
A Wind River spokesperson told Reuters that the company often helps customers to upgrade to newer versions. A Huawei spokesperson said the vendor would address ‘any areas for improvement' that are raised by the British authorities (although the Oversight Board's report does not specifically mention VxWorks).
Huawei supplies equipment to UK telcos including BT and Vodafone.