This Wednesday, the European Union alerted the world of an increased risk the next gen 5G, telecommunication networks are facing from ‘state-backed’ actors. Interestingly, EU did not directly implicate China and its leading telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies in its report.
These comments have been featured in in a report prepared by EU member states on the cybersecurity risks that upcoming 5G telecommunication technology has to face.
The reports have refrained from making any comments on United States’ appeal to bar Huawei devices, after US made allegations that its devices are being used by China for spying.
A joint statement released by European Commission and Finland, it is stated;
In this context of increased exposure to attacks facilitated by suppliers, the risk profile of individual suppliers will become particularly important, including the likelihood of the supplier being subject to interference from a non-EU country.
Huawei, which is the main supplier of 5G equipment to the market besides Nokia and Ericsson, has always denied that its gears could be used for spying.
A Huawei spokesperson said:
This exercise is an important step toward developing a common approach to cybersecurity and delivering safe networks for the 5G era. We are pleased to note that the EU delivered on its commitment to take an evidence-based approach, thoroughly analyzing risks rather than targeting specific countries or actors.
However, Tom Ridge, a former U.S. secretary of homeland security has a different take on the matter. He says that since Huawei is in close ties with the Chinese government, it might have to comply with their regulations put in place for the process of intelligence gathering.
If countries needed more reason to implement stricter security measures to protect 5G networks, this comprehensive risk assessment is it.
The fifth generation of networks will be linked to countless sensors, devices, security camera, institutions and offices. This calls in for even more network security than persisting in the present world.
A Nokia spokesperson mentioned:
5G security requires that networks are built leveraging the most advanced security features, selecting vendors that are trustworthy and transparent.
EU members, however, have a difference in opinion regarding Huawei. Britain, which is a friend of US, is attempting to find ways of excluding it from critical networks. Meanwhile, Germany is going down a road where all the 5G providers are provided with equal opportunity to prove their value.
Meanwhile, EU also stressed the importance of avoiding over-dependence on a single vendor.
A major dependency on a single supplier increases the exposure to a potential supply interruption, resulting for instance from a commercial failure, and its consequences.
Network operators from Europe, including Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, rely on the multi-vendor scheme as it prevents security threats that may surface from over trust on one supplier.
Alex Sinclair, chief technology officer of the GSMA said;
The Commission’s 5G assessment recognizes security isn’t just a supplier issue. We all have a role to play – from manufacturers to operators to consumers – and we are taking responsibility for our part in the security chain seriously.
EU is now planning to come up with an architecture to measure cyber security threats at the global, as well as bloc level. The European Agency for Cybersecurity is also working towards detection of specific threats pertaining to 5G networks.