Herman Kannenberg | Head | Legal Affairs and Cyber Security | Huawei South Africa |
Building a safer cybersecurity environment requires a collaborative approach by regulators and industry players across the planet.
A recent report by Strategy Analytics, a global technology and media analyst agency, rated Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia as the top three global 5G RAN vendors in terms of equipment performance, RAN product portfolio, R&D investment and subscriber projections.
The fact of the matter, however, is that there are no globally accepted standards of cybersecurity itself. There is, as yet, no objective measure of what is secure and what is not, in the cyber realm. The cybersecurity industry is in need of agreed cross-sector standards, before one can start ranking the performance of vendors in various markets.
Unified global standard
“Scientists and engineers would prefer a unified global standard so that people can follow this standard to develop better products.”
– Eric Xu, Huawei Rotating Chairman
Cybersecurity itself is certainly a technical issue that requires expertise, and as such our colleagues at Huawei have been working with governments and industry partners around the world to agree on standards related to digital security.
The same urgent initiatives are taking place in the 5G space, where this new technology has become conflated with the cybersecurity debate.
The motivation for this consultation is not nationalistic nor is it political in nature, but rather motivated by the need to reduce overall costs and to improve return on investment for all of the players in this industry. Great progress has been made on this front between Europe and China and through concerted industry efforts, we are starting to see a unified global standard for 5G, one that industry players can refer to as they develop 5G products.
However, every time 5G or cybersecurity becomes a political or ideological football, this process is stalled. The world market becomes polarised and we separate into our respective territories, duplicating our efforts and building technologies and standards that are incompatible.
5G, as an emerging technology, gives us an opportunity to come together, find agreement, and create a platform that is more secure than any that has come before.
The 5G platform is highly secure. Information transmitted through 5G networks has built-in 256-bit encryption. Hacking into 5G networks would, therefore, require massive computing power (often having to make use of quantum computers) which are not yet even readily available.
“Cybersecurity is an issue that challenges everyone. It should, therefore, get special attention, in the definition of 5G-related standards. 5G is more secure than previous generations of mobile communication technologies.”
– Eric Xu, Huawei Rotating Chairman
It is critical that we return the cybersecurity debate to its essence – technology. Geopolitical manoeuvering and grandstanding around the issue will not improve geopolitical cybersecurity, but damage it.
Objective standards must be the basis of such a technology-based approach. With this in mind, Huawei is an active member of more than 400 standards organisations, industry alliances, and open-source communities globally.
We proactively contribute to these groups and over the years we have submitted nearly 60,000 proposals, doing our bit to build a robust industry ecosystem for everyone. Research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics found that Huawei has provided more contributions to end-to-end 5G standards than any other company in the world.
The setting of standards is a collaborative process, and taking an adversarial approach to technology sets everybody back, especially those who refuse to participate.
A common responsibility
Cybersecurity is a common but differentiated responsibility. Vendors, operators, governments and citizens all have different roles to play and the only way to ensure that the interests of all stakeholders are protected is through broad consultation, dialogue and inclusive participation.
With this in mind, Huawei is constantly working with governments, industry bodies and operators, in a constructive dialogue on cybersecurity. In the UK, our government relations remain healthy, and Huawei is recognised as an industry leader on cybersecurity, despite Britain’s scrutiny of our equipment being among the toughest in the world.
It’s not all plain sailing and officials do raise concerns, which we take pains to address, in order to ensure excellence and to manage risks. Consistently, the issues raised are around quality and security and not related to malfeasance or cyber espionage.
Huawei has been operating in Europe for nearly 20 years and the confidence of our customers can be seen as an expression of trust in Huawei’s top-end cybersecurity standards.
To support and enhance these relationships, Huawei has set up the Huawei Cyber Security Transparency Centre in Brussels, a platform to enhance communication and joint innovation with all stakeholders, public and private. It also provides a technical verification and evaluation platform for customers.
We strive to consult all stakeholders in working to develop secure, reliable 5G and cybersecurity standards. Huawei’s relationships with industry stakeholders are open and honest and constructive criticism and robust discussion are welcomed.
Despite how some see it, technology is not a terrain of struggle and proxy warfare. It’s not about any one nation becoming the ‘technology leader’ of the world, to the detriment of others.
Technology – and the uses we put it to – is for the good of humanity. It is imperative that all industry players (governments, companies and people) continue to communicate and engage, to set the standards for the developments that will see us through the next century.