In its efforts to reduce any potential security threats to its developing 5G networks, the European Union (EU) is urging its member states to adhere to a set of measures laid out earlier this month.
The ‘toolbox’ of policies and actions that the EU has set forth pays particular attention to the reduction of involving certain “high risk” suppliers in favor of a multi-vendor approach.
The EU has stated that it believes mobile operators will be more dependent on their equipment suppliers in the 5G era than they are today, and this may result in greater threats to national security should there be any vulnerabilities in the software, whether they are there intentionally or accidentally.
The fear over security and the 5G era is partially based on the fact that the volume of threats is expected to be much higher than it is currently, due in part to the fact that there will be a large increase in the number of connected devices as well as an increase in sensitive data being transmitted across networks.
The European Commission issued an update on the toolbox, noting that though many member states had begun the process of initiating reviews of their national security strategies and giving regulators more power to restrict the access of suppliers based on their security profile, there still exists a great dependency on ‘high risk’ vendors
“The timely rollout of 5G networks is strategically important for all Member States as it can open new opportunities for businesses, transform our critical sectors and benefit European citizens,” said European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who handles digital policy. “Our common priority and responsibility is to ensure that these networks are secure and, while this report shows we have undergone great strides, a lot of work remains ahead.”
Though no actual companies have been specifically named by the EU, it is likely that Huawei and ZTE are both considered ‘high risk’. The Chinese companies have both been subject to restrictions in some markets, with Huawei perhaps the more notable of the two.
Earlier this month the U.K. government announced it would be reversing its decision to include Huawei in its national 5G spectrum, going so far as to make it illegal for domestic companies to do business with the tech giant starting next year.