EU warns of 5G security risks from state-backed entities

THE EUROPEAN UNION has warned that 5G networks could be at risk from suppliers with strong links to national governments.

However, the report, which was clearly aimed at highlighting the risks posed from using hardware and services supplied by Chinese telecoms companies, stopped short from naming Huawei and ZTE.

The report – prepared by an EU security group – highlighted the increased security risks posed by well-resourced state-backed entities and called for a new approach to securing telecoms infrastructure in the EU.

The report stressed that non-EU companies bidding for 5G network contracts could be “subject to interference” when they have strong ties to their government, or work in a system that lacks “democratic checks and balances”.

“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,” the European Commission and Finland, which currently holds the EU presidency, said in a joint statement, according to Reuters.

The report highlights the need for the EU member states to build long-term trust relationships with 5G technology suppliers and to go for diversity in equipment and solutions. It warns that leaving a 5G network in the end-to-end hands of a single vendor would be risky.

The EU said it plans to publish a paper by the end of the year that will explore in detail the specific steps required to deal with the security risks. That report may also name particular products it regards as insecure.

Huawei has welcomed the EU’s latest report, stating that it is always ready to work jointly with European partners on the issue of 5G network security.

The company reiterated that cybersecurity has been a top priority.

However, Huawei has failed to satisfy the US government, which has strongly argued that Huawei could be forced by the Chinese government to hack its customers through “back doors” preinstalled on Huawei’s products.

In May, the US Commerce Department put Huawei on its “entity list” of firms that need special permission from the government to buy US technology and components.

President Trump has also repeatedly called on friendly states and the European Union to bar Huawei from their upcoming 5G infrastructure projects.

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