Amid mounting pressure from the US and its allies over the security of its networking gear, Huawei Technologies this week received some support from the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which has determined that it is possible to “limit the risks from using Huawei” in 5G networks, according to a Financial Times report on Monday citing people familiar with the situation. This view puts the UK at odds with other members of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance including the US, Australia and New Zealand, which have all barred the use of Huawei equipment on national security grounds. Canada is currently weighing up Huawei’s possible participation in 5G wireless systems there, and analysts have said the UK view could give it more room for manoeuvre. Here’s what you need to know about the NCSC: What does the UK National Cyber Security Centre do? The London-headquartered NCSC is the British authority on cybersecurity. Established in October 2016, it is an arm of the 100-year-old Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the country’s signals intelligence agency, tasked to manage the spread of sophisticated cyber threats to the country in the internet age. The cybersecurity watchdog has been advising the general public and the private sector in the UK, including telecoms operators, about cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Huawei approval by UK could sway more European states against US, analysts say Ciaran Martin, the former Director General Cyber at parent organisation GCHQ, is the current chief executive officer of the NCSC. Who does the NCSC work with internationally? The UK’s intelligence agencies work with the Five Eyes alliance, which comprises Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the US. Under the alliance, the NCSC works with the US Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as the cybersecurity organisations of other members. The NCSC also partners on cyber defence cooperation with Nato, the intergovernmental military alliance between 29 North American and European countries. How closely has the NCSC been involved in the Huawei assessment and what have they found? On behalf of the UK government, the NCSC has led the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) Oversight Board, which monitors the Huawei-owned security research organisation HCSEC. Chaired by NCSC head Martin, the board has conducted annual evaluations of Huawei’s products – from a security point of view – in the UK since its formation in 2014. ‘US cannot crush us’: Huawei founder Ren brands daughter’s arrest political The NCSC has now determined that there are ways to limit the risks from using Huawei in future 5G ultra-fast networks, the Financial Times reported on Monday, citing two people familiar with the conclusion, which has not been made public. One person familiar with the debate said the British conclusion would “carry great weight” with European leaders, as the UK has access to sensitive US intelligence via its membership of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network. In the past, the NCSC has raised some concerns about Huawei, highlighting that “identification of shortcomings in Huawei’s engineering processes have exposed new risks in the UK telecoms network and long-term challenges in mitigation and management.” “The Oversight Board can provide only limited assurance that all risks to UK national security from Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s critical networks have been sufficiently mitigated,” said a July report, which was the fourth annual report produced by the board. New Zealand and Italy cloud US push for 5G ban on Huawei Although the NCSC has been “blunt” about Huawei’s shortcomings it “has never found evidence of malicious Chinese state cyber activity through Huawei”, Robert Hannigan, former head of GCHQ, wrote in a commentary for the Financial Times earlier this month. Huawei is expected to make improvements to address concerns raised by the NCSC on its “engineering and security capabilities”, a spokesman for NCSC said in an emailed statement on Monday. How Huawei became the world’s No 1 telecoms gear supplier “We have a unique oversight and understanding of Huawei engineering and cybersecurity,” it said. Is the NCSC keeping an eye on other Chinese companies as well? Huawei is not the only Chinese company that the NCSC has raised concerns about. Last year it warned the UK telecoms sector against using the equipment and services of ZTE, a Chinese state-owned company, citing national security concerns. US tells European allies: don’t buy ‘untrusted’ Chinese gear for 5G networks “NCSC assesses that the national security risks arising from the use of ZTE equipment or services within the context of the existing UK telecommunications infrastructure cannot be mitigated,” a statement on the agency’s website shows.