Americas, Content, Distributed Workforce

5G Wireless Networks Need National Security Advisor, Lawmakers Say

Fifth generation wireless network technology (5G) needs a national security coordinator to lead and unify the country’s emerging telecommunications platform, a bipartisan group of lawmakers told U.S. security advisor Robert O’Brien in a letter last week.

The chairs and ranking members of the Intelligence, Homeland Security, Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees urged O’Brien to advance a national strategy for 5G mobile neworks that overlays the mandates of individual agencies.

"Without a national strategy, facilitated by a common understanding of the geopolitical and technical impact of 5G and future telecommunications advancements, we expect each agency will continue to operate within its own mandate, rather than identifying national authority and policy deficiencies that do not neatly fall into a single department or agency," eight members of the upper chamber wrote. "This fractured approach will not be sufficient to rise to the challenge the country faces. We would further urge you to designate a dedicated, senior individual focused solely on coordinating and leading the nation’s effort to develop and deploy future telecommunications technologies." (via The Hill)

Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jim Risch (R-ID), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), James Inhofe (R-OK) and Jack Reed (D-RI) signed the letter.

5G Network Security: Earlier Proposals

Earlier efforts to develop a national strategy to protect 5G network build outs have pointed to security threats the emerging technology poses. In May, a bipartisan House bill advocated for a national strategy to protect 5G wireless technology from alleged security threats posed by foreign suppliers, particularly Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei. The Secure 5G and Beyond Act, sponsored by Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) and five other Congressional members, would require the Trump administration to develop an unclassified, national strategy to protect U.S. consumers and assist allies in maximizing the security of their 5G telecommunications systems. The strategy would also promote research and development by U.S. companies to improve broadband access to all Americans. So far, it’s gone nowhere in the Senate.

A number of recent studies have also pointed to 5G networks as an inviting target for hackers. Eight in 10 senior cybersecurity and risk management decision makers at 50 global companies said 5G technology will bring heightened risks and cybersecurity challenges for their organizations, a survey by Information Risk Management revealed. “The acceleration to market of 5G and lack of security considerations are causing concern,” the report said. “The vulnerabilities in 5G appear to go beyond wireless, introducing risks around virtualised and cloud native infrastructure.”

5G Network Security: FCC Veteran Views

Securing the ecosystem of devices and applications attached to 5G mobile networks worries cybersecurity pros. The 5G mobile internet connectivity race is to secure not only the network but also the ecosystem of devices and applications attached to the network, former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler and David Simpson, former chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, said in a new paper published by the Brookings Institute entitled Why 5G Requires New Approaches to Cybersecurity. “To build 5G on top of a weak cybersecurity foundation is to build on sand,” the authors wrote.

D. Howard Kass

D. Howard Kass is a contributing editor to MSSP Alert. He brings a career in journalism and market research to the role. He has served as CRN News Editor, Dataquest Channel Analyst, and West Coast Senior Contributing Editor at Channelnomics. As the CEO of The Viewpoint Group, he led groundbreaking market research.