by Tommy Stubbington | The Sunday Times, 11 August 2018
|GCHQ has warned of security concerns over the 5G mobile|
broadband technologies likely to come from China.
Jeremy Fleming, head of GCHQ [Government Communications HQ], said “fifth generation” mobile services (5G) — which are expected to be launched in Britain next year and could eventually underpin everything from driverless cars to energy-saving “smart cities” — are among a host of new technologies that risk making “us more vulnerable to terrorists, hostile states and serious criminals”.
Writing in The Sunday Times today, Fleming says: “Critical technologies, for example in 5G, are increasingly likely to come from China . . .
“Just as our adversaries are not constrained by international boundaries, we must make sure that our legislative and technology arrangements are able to keep pace.”
Fleming’s comments are the clearest expression yet of growing unease in security circles over China’s technological and financial clout.
A government report into the Chinese company Huawei concluded last month that the British government has “only limited assurance” that the tech giant poses no threat to national security.
The investigation was overseen by GCHQ and carried out by the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC), a body set up by the government in 2010 amid concerns that the company posed a security threat.
Huawei, the world’s largest provider of telecoms equipment, is set to lead the global charge into 5G and has signed a deal to provide the next generation of mobile broadband kit to BT.
HCSEC said that it had identified issues with Huawei’s engineering processes that lead to “new risks in the UK telecommunications networks”.
Fleming called for security concerns to be placed at the heart of the development of new technologies such as 5G, which is expected to require some 400,000 new mobile phone masts across the country.
“In the past we have often seen security bolted on to technology as new risks emerge. For an environment where the cycle of development to deployment is accelerating and where our dependence on overseas technologies is increasing, this approach no longer works,” Fleming said.
“New systems — and their supply chains — need security built into the earliest stages of design if we are to protect liberties, ensure public confidence and counter threats to internet freedom.”