Mark Goldberg


Securing 5G networks

In an IT World article, Howard Solomon wrote about the chairman’s statement that emerged from a recent 5G Security Conference that took place last week in Prague. The 2 day meeting of officials, representing 32 countries, did not reach any binding conclusions, but the chair issued a 20-point set of “proposals”.

In the preamble, the statement observes the following characteristics of 5G networks:

  • Cyber security not only a technical issue
  • Both technical and non-technical nature of cyber threats
  • Possible serious effects of 5G networks disruption
  • Nation-wide approach
  • Proper risk assessment essential
  • Broad nature of security measures
  • No universal solutions
  • Ensuring security while supporting innovation
  • Security costs money
  • Supply chain security

The proposals were categorized under 4 headings: Policy; Technology; Economy; and, Security, Privacy, and Resilience.

The Prague Proposals represent an interesting statement, based on principles that could apply beyond the realm of 5G; many could be considerations for securing the internet of things, as we begin to understand the security implications of connecting devices that may not have been designed to operate in an open network environment.

Although Canada is reported to have participated only as an observer, the Prague Proposals are an inventory of the kinds of considerations that may be underway as carriers continue investing in the next generation of network evolution. Significantly, the Prague Proposals state “Every country is free, in accordance with international law, to set its own national security and law enforcement requirements, which should respect privacy and adhere to laws protecting information from improper collection and misuse.”

The challenge for many assessments is to develop a set of policies and principles rooted in objective measures, separate and devoid of political considerations. Too frequently, good policy may not make for good politics.

What path should Canada follow?

On Monday June 3, Christine Dobby from the Globe and Mail will be moderating an important panel at The 2019 Canadian Telecom Summit, Cyber Security: Protection, Pre-emption & Privacy in the Age of Bad Actors. The panel includes Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Privacy by Design Centre of Excellence at Ryerson University; Kevin Isacks, Vice President Edge Products, Ribbon Communications; Olivera Zatezalo, Chief Security Officer, Huawei Technologies Canada; and Zubaer Raja, Chief Information Security Officer, Iristel.

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