Cybersecurity global forum FIRST suspends Huawei

The Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST) temporarily suspends Huawei following changes last month to U.S. export rules. (FierceTelecom)

Huawei has been temporarily suspended from membership in the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST.)

FIRST suspended Huawei based on legal advice following changes last month to U.S. export rules, according to an exclusive story by The Wall Street Journal.

"At FIRST we strongly believe that in order to build a global cybersecurity incident response community, from which every company or user participating in the internet can benefit, we should all work to limit the impact of sanctions or export regulations on incident responders," said FIRST Executive Director Chris Gibson, in an email to FierceTelecom. "This includes being a forum where technology corporations, such as Huawei, have the ability to participate."

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"After extensive consultation and review of changes made to the US Export Administration Regulations (EAR), we regret ending up in a position where we had to suspend Huawei's membership in order to ensure we meet these evolving regulations," FIRST said in a statement on its website. "In order to achieve our goals, we intend to work closely with both Huawei and the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) to address any concerns related to their participation in FIRST."

Huawei didn't respond with a comment in regard to its suspension by FIRST.

FIRST was established in 1990 in response to a security incident called the "Wank worm." FIRST works with government entities, universities, multinational corporations and other entities to share information about security threats and vulnerabilities. FIRST has a long list of members and its board of directors includes companies such as Cisco, Hitachi, Siemens, Juniper Networks and Panasonic. FIRST has 492 cybersecurity teams in 92 different countries.

Being suspended means that Huawei won't be able to take part in global security discussions among the FIRST members. It could also impede Huawei's ability to patch or fix holes in its own systems, according to The Wall Street Journal.

For now, Huawei isn't allowed access to discussions in FIRST's Special Interest Groups that share details on cybersecurity threats between member organizations. Huawei also won't be able to use an automated platform for sharing information on malware.

In May, the U.S. Department of Commerce added Huawei to its Bureau of Industry and Security Entity List, which barred Huawei from doing business with American companies. The U.S. has maintained that Huawei works with the Chinese government by providing backdoor access in its telecom gear for espionage purposes, which Huawei has long denied.

Shortly after announcing the ban, the Commerce Department announced a temporary license that authorized some transactions between Huawei and its U.S. customers, including rural wireless service providers.

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