Will security issues hamper ZTE’s phone efforts in the U.S.?

chinese-spy

A security hole was found in the ZTE Score, a handset model sold on both by Metro PCS and Cricket in the U.S. On Friday, ZTE confirmed the issue exists, says Reuters, and is working to close what some are calling a “backdoor” method of access to the Google Android handset. The problem is one of bad timing for ZTE, which has been under scrutiny for some time by the U.S. government because the company is based in China.

I’ve said for more than a year that ZTE — and Huawei, for that matter — are two Chinese companies that are soon to be a household name in the U.S. Unfortunately, this type of security issue isn’t what I meant. ZTE is one of the largest network hardware manufacturers in the world and recently announced a strategy to challenge for the top smartphone spot as well. In the past year, according to Gartner, ZTE has moved from fifth to fourth in worldwide mobile phone sales and is now closing in on Apple.

What’s particularly concerning here is the type of security breach. If the hole is a “backdoor” by the traditional definition, it means that ZTE actively created the entry point, which can be accessed through a single password for control of the phone. It suggests that Android — which is no stranger to malware and security issues — isn’t the problem, but that ZTE itself manufactured it.

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And given the prior concerns that a Chinese company could be using phones and other consumer technology to gather information unbeknownst to a user, this issue may fan the fires of mistrust.

Perhaps this is much ado about nothing and simply an issue of poor timing and coincidence. But it could give consumers and carriers pause before buying or using a ZTE-built phone or tablet in the U.S. What do you think: Potential national security issue or something we really shouldn’t worry too much about? Have it in our poll!

Thumbnail image courtesy of TRDefence

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