GCHQ: We must understand the "threats" of Chinese technology

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Huawei at MWC 2019Copyright of the image
TASS / Getty Images

The UK cyber security agency warned that Britain needed to understand the potential "opportunities and threats" of using Chinese technology.

In a rare speech, GCHQ Director Jeremy Fleming emphasized the need for best practices in cybersecurity in the telecommunications sector.

"It's an extremely complex strategic challenge," he said.

The United States is pressuring its allies so that they do not use the technology of the Chinese Huawei company to build new 5G networks.

Its officials fear that China will use Huawei products to spy on other countries.

& # 39; Naive & # 39;

Most UK mobile phone companies – Vodafone, EE and Three – have been working with Huawei on 5G, but they are awaiting the results of a government review, scheduled for March or April, that will decide whether or not they will be able to compete. they will be allowed or not. to go from the front.

In December, MI6 head Alex Younger raised questions about China's role in the technology sector in the UK. A recent report from the Royal United Services Institute stated that it would be "naïve" and "irresponsible" to allow access to Huawei.

However, the National Cybersecurity Center – a member of the GCHQ – said last week that any risk presented by the company could be managed.

In his speech in Singapore, Mr. Fleming pointed out that the government was keen to balance the supply chain and ensure diversity in the telecommunications equipment supplier market.

"We need to understand the opportunities and threats of the Chinese technology offering – to understand the global nature of supply chains and service delivery, regardless of the supplier's flag," he said. declared.

"Clearly state the implications of China's technology acquisition strategy in the West and help our governments to choose which elements of this expansion need to be managed, which ones require risk management and which ones will require always a sovereign or allied solution ".

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  • He added, "Our solution will be crucial for prosperity and security well beyond 5G contracts".

    Highlighting the need for stronger cyber security in the telecommunications sector, Fleming said: "Vulnerabilities can and will be exploited, but networks must be designed to minimize the damage."

    Copyright of the image
    AFP

    Legend

    GCHQ Director Jeremy Fleming said the UK has not made a decision on 5G yet.

    According to Sylvain Fabre, senior director of research at Gartner, 5G is important for the UK government to ensure that Britain remains competitive as a country.

    "They are looking at the situation in a way that has not been done before, but it seems that all the options are still on the table," he told the BBC.

    Mr. Fabre explained that, traditionally, mobile operators chose at least three major providers, as well as a few smaller providers, not just one.

    This strategy ensures that the mobile operator is able to benefit from a range of innovative technologies at competitive prices, which is also advantageous for the market.

    National interests

    The United States is pursuing criminal proceedings against Huawei and its financial director, Meng Wanzhou.

    The company's founder, Ren Zhengfei, told the BBC in an exclusive interview last week that the United States accounted for only a fraction of its overall business and could not "crush it".

    He added that Huawei "would continue to invest in the UK," adding, "We continue to trust the UK and we hope the UK will trust us even more."

    Speaking at a round table at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Sunday, Huawei's rotating president, Guo Ping, once again denied allegations that the company's equipment was being used for business. ;spying.

    "Huawei must comply with both Chinese and foreign laws if we operate in these countries and Huawei will never dare, and will not, and will not be able to violate any of the rules and regulations in force. where we operate, "said Guo. to AFP.

    He said he hoped countries would make 5G decisions based on national interests and not just listen to the order of someone else.