Red flags of the 5G security

European Union Member States have published a joint risk assessment report into 5G technology which highlights increased security risks that will require a new approach to securing telecoms infrastructure.

Even though the EU has so far resisted pressure from the U.S. to boycott Chinese tech giant Huawei as a 5G supplier on national security grounds the report clearly indicates from where the risk against which it warns would come. As we can read – “non-EU state or state-backed actors” — it can be read as diplomatic code for Huawei. That could have another meaning after Brexit comes to pass.

For now, Huawei, Ericsson, and Nokia are the main players in the 5G sector in terms of market share. Others are ZTE, Samsung and Cisco.; only Ericsson and Nokia have their headquarters in the EU. Consequently, their governance and structure are significantly different, which can be seen in terms of transparency and ownership of the companies. Not all alerts are specific for the 5G dangers; however, their numbers and importance are expected to increase on 5G networks as the complexity of the technology increases.

To point the main concerns raised in the report:

Increased exposure to attacks and more potential entry points for attackers.
Due to new characteristics of the 5G network architecture and new functionalities, certain pieces of network equipment or functions are becoming more sensitive.
Increased exposure to risks related to the reliance of mobile network operators on suppliers. It will also lead to a higher number of attacks paths that might be exploited by threat actors and increase the potential severity of the impact of such attacks. Among the various potential actors, non-EU States or State-backed are considered as the most serious ones and the most likely to target 5G networks.
Increased risks from major dependencies on suppliers
Threats to the availability and integrity of networks

Since the economy and society are expected to be even more dependent on the technical infrastructure in the future, up taking protective measures is necessary not only on a national level but also for each individual person.

The full report of the EU Commission can be accessed at https://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-19-6049_en.htm

AM, Verificators

- 10 October 2019 - EN