A Huawei logo. Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Bloomberg reported Tuesday that Vodafone's Italian division had discovered "backdoors" in its Huawei-brand telecommunications equipment in 2011 and 2012.

But, but, but: The story did not play well in the security community, where the evidence is seen as insufficient to the central claims. It didn't make a strong case that the "backdoor" was anything more than a minor, unintentional problem. Vodafone's official stance was it wasn't.

Reality check: The story was based on internal memos leaked to Bloomberg.

  • The "backdoors" were a number of security flaws that Vodafone found in security testing. All hardware and software have security vulnerabilities, so that doesn't seem particularly malicious.

Details: One "backdoor" was Telnet, an extremely common communications protocol that many hardware manufacturers use for configuration. While Huawei used the industry standard way to make Telnet inaccessible via the wider internet, Vodafone has a policy of not allowing Telnet.

  • When Huawei fixed the equipment, it claimed it resolved the Telnet issue, but Telnet was still accessible.
  • According to the memos, Huawei said that Telnet couldn't be entirely removed from the router.

To be clear: This chain of events is common for manufacturers. It's hard to make the leap to claiming this was a backdoor based on the story.

  • This is where the story stopped.

However: Bloomberg may not have given the full account of the technical reasoning that the Telnet issue was intentional.

  • Bloomberg did not release the memos, so it's hard to verify any technical details.
  • Still, according to Stefano Zanero, an expert quoted in the story who did see the memos, the memos make Huawei seem sketchier than the story suggested.

According to Zanero, the following was left out of the story:

  • The Telnet service wasn't in guides explaining how the hardware worked.
  • The passwords to the Telnet service couldn't be changed, meaning the manufacturer would always know how to hack the hardware.
  • It accepted connections in a nonstandard way, which made it seem hidden.
  • The Telnet was successfully removed once but reintroduced later.

The bottom line: It still isn't a smoking gun. Even with Zanero's elaborations, to most of the security community, this has read like Vodafone employees attributing malice to incompetence.

Go deeper: Vodafone denies Bloomberg report on security flaws in Huawei equipment

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 a.m. ET: 30,199,007 — Total deaths: 946,490— Total recoveries: 20,544, 967Map
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Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Mike Bloomberg's anti-chaos theory

CNN's Anderson Cooper questions Joe Biden last night at a drive-in town hall in Moosic, Pa., outside Scranton. Photo: CNN

Mike Bloomberg's $100 million Florida blitz begins today and will continue "wall to wall" in all 10 TV markets through Election Day, advisers tell me.

Why it matters: Bloomberg thinks that Joe Biden putting away Florida is the most feasible way to head off the national chaos we could have if the outcome of Trump v. Biden remained uncertain long after Election Day.

Biden's hardline Russia reset

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Getty Images photos: Mark Reinstein

When he talks about Russia, Joe Biden has sounded like Ronald Reagan all summer, setting up a potential Day 1 confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin if Biden were to win.

Why it matters: Biden has promised a forceful response against Russia for both election interference and alleged bounty payments to target American troops in Afghanistan. But being tougher than President Trump could be the easy part. The risk is overdoing it and making diplomacy impossible.