National Grid drops Chinese tech supplier over cybersecurity fears

Electricity Pylon
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The UK’s National Grid has ended a contract with its Beijing-backed supplier of electrical components after receiving guidance from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

Nari Technology has 51.48% of its shares owned by a Chinese state-owned electricity infrastructure company.

As a result of the contract termination, National Grid has also begun removing modules already installed on the network that were previously supplied by Nari Technology.

 Growing fear of Chinese electronics

The UK has gradually been phasing out Chinese supplied electronics due to security fears surrounding Chinese state influence in Chinese companies. This follows a general trend of Western countries taking steps to secure critical infrastructure against any potential foreign interference.

The UK government has recently taken a number of steps towards securing its infrastructure, including buying out a Chinese state-owned company involved in the development of the Sizewell C nuclear plant, and bowing to US pressure to ban the use of Huawei supplied electronics in the development of its 5G network.

According to a Financial Times source, the electronics of concern are used to communicate between the electricity grid and energy projects, and help to minimize blackouts. According to a NR Electric UK employee, the company had worked on about 15 sites and that previous testing of the supplied components had not shown "any potential risk".

Commenting on the decision to end the contracts, a UK government official stated, "The UK takes its national security extremely seriously, including the security of its critical infrastructure and all sectors of the economy. We work closely with the private sector to safeguard our national security."

The Chinese embassy in London commented, "The China-UK practical co-operation is a win-win one that brings benefits to both sides, and the two countries should make joint efforts to create conducive environment to it."

The US has recently suffered a number of probing cyber attacks against critical infrastructure sites, with officials alleging the attacks were conducted by the Chinese military to develop an attack playbook in the event war breaks out between the two superpowers.

Via FinancialTimes

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Benedict Collins
Staff Writer (Security)

Benedict Collins is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Pro covering privacy and security. Before settling into journalism he worked as a Livestream Production Manager, covering games in the National Ice Hockey League for 5 years and contributing heavily to the advancement of livestreaming within the league. Benedict is mainly focused on security issues such as phishing, malware, and cyber criminal activity, but he also likes to draw on his knowledge of geopolitics and international relations to understand the motives and consequences of state-sponsored cyber attacks.

He has a MA in Security, Intelligence and Diplomacy, alongside a BA in Politics with Journalism, both from the University of Buckingham. His masters dissertation, titled 'Arms sales as a foreign policy tool,' argues that the export of weapon systems has been an integral part of the diplomatic toolkit used by the US, Russia and China since 1945. Benedict has also written about NATO's role in the era of hybrid warfare, the influence of interest groups on US foreign policy, and how reputational insecurity can contribute to the misuse of intelligence.

Outside of work Ben follows many sports; most notably ice hockey and rugby. When not running or climbing, Ben can most often be found deep in the shrubbery of a pub garden.