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Federal cyber agency releases strategy to secure 5G networks

Federal cyber agency releases strategy to secure 5G networks
© Greg Nash

The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released a strategy Monday to defend U.S. 5G networks against threats.

The CISA 5G Strategy outlines five “strategic initiatives” to secure the buildout of 5G systems, which include supporting 5G policy and standards development that stops malicious actors from influencing the design of new systems, expanding awareness of supply chain threats to 5G systems to minimize vulnerabilities, and working to strengthen and secure existing infrastructure. 

CISA Director Christopher Krebs wrote in the report that he saw 5G development as the “single biggest critical infrastructure build the world has seen in 25 years,” highlighting the need to build security into a system that will support essential services. 

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“Given 5G’s scope, the stakes for safeguarding our networks could not be higher,” Krebs wrote. “The vulnerabilities that will come with 5G deployment are broad and range from insider threats to cyber espionage and attacks from sophisticated nation-states.”

“Now more than ever, trust in our services and the underpinning equipment is paramount,” he added. 

The release of the strategy comes after President TrumpDonald John TrumpFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought '9/11 attack was 7/11 attack' MORE released a “National Strategy to Secure 5G” in March. The new CISA 5G strategy is aligned with Trump’s plan, with both focusing on risk management, stakeholder engagement, and technical assistance to address threats to 5G systems. 

“My Administration is committed to protecting America’s national security, promoting our prosperity, and preserving our civil liberties and democratic ideals,” Trump wrote in the administration’s 5G strategy. “Ensuring the security, reliability, and trustworthiness of our 5G infrastructure is essential to these endeavors.”

Both plans also come amid increasing tensions with China over issues including technological development, with the Trump administration taking multiple actions to limit Chinese telecommunications groups Huawei and ZTE from doing business in the U.S. due to concerns over national security. 

Huawei is one of the largest 5G equipment manufacturers in the world, and has pushed back against concerns that its equipment poses a threat due to the company’s ties to Chinese government. 

The U.S. has also pressured allied countries to cut the company out of its systems, with the United Kingdom and France recently taking steps to end business with the company.