Huawei appoints former UK CIO as chief cyber security officer

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The Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, the second largest equipment firm in the World, has appointed John Suffolk, former Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the British Government as its chief cyber-security officer.

The firm said the move is aimed at developing a state of the art security system for the company which can be deployed to ensure the privacy of its clients. It pointed out that it has, over the last few years, evolved from a firm which made and sold base stations and cell phones into a solutions provider that took on the responsibility for creating and maintaining the entire network on behalf of an operator or client.

“..Huawei is expanding its business beyond its traditional operator market to meet the communications need of both enterprises and consumers… This will enhance Huawei’s capabilities in addressing security challenges, and further support our proven track record and reputation among customers in an increasingly complex environment,” the firm said.

“The new system, therefore, will help Huawei, protect its global network of services, including “clouds, pipes and devices, the customer-oriented business processes and the whole ICT supply chain,” it added.

From the announcement, it was not clear whether the system would be deployed on client networks or whether it would essentially cover only its own infrastructure. But, given the dimming boundaries between client networks and the equipment providers’ own network, the distinction may not remain relevant much longer.

Before joining Huawei, Suffolk was the CIO to the UK Government and was responsible for the development and implementation of the UK Government’s “Transformational Government Strategies, the Technology Strategy, and the Information Assurance Strategy.”

He has also been the Director General of the UK Criminal Justice Transformation Programme and before that Managing Director of the Britannia Building Society, a large retail financial services company, Huawei said.

Huawei has been accused, off the record, of being ‘too close’ to the Chinese People’s Revolutionary Army by wary Indian security officials, leading to delays and other obstructions for the company in India. In 2009, it emerged as the second largest telecom network equipment company after Ericsson, after several years of rapid growth fueled by its low-cost offerings.

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