5G is already being adopted by carriers in selected cities, and is expected to become more widespread in the U.S. in 2019. However, its more comprehensive rollout should take place in 2020.
Apparently, Qatar’s Ooredoo has already launched a commercial service, and South Korea and China are planning to launch 5G next year.
5G Cyber-Espionage Concerns Explained
What should we expect, besides all the improvements such as the much faster upload and download speeds, wider coverage and more stable performance? Are there any concerns we should take into consideration? According to cybersecurity experts, 5G can be used for espionage purposes.
More specifically, David Vignault, Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), believes that 5G can be deployed to target large organizations for information-stealing purposes. Targets in such “attacks” will have both civilian and military security purposes.
“CSIS has seen a trend of state-sponsored espionage in fields that are crucial to Canada’s ability to build and sustain a prosperous, knowledge-based economy,” the expert added. He believes that areas in Canada such as AI, quantum technology, 5G itself, biopharma, can be affected by such cyber-espionage campaigns.
Vigneault feels that Canadian universities (and perhaps universities in general) are largely unaware of their vulnerability to cyber-espionage by state actors. UK’s Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, also expressed similar worries concerning Huawei being involved in the development of the country’s 5G infrastructure.
MI6’s Alex Younger feels that “we need to decide the extent to which we are going to becomfortable with Chinese ownership of these technologies and these platforms in an environment where some of our allies have taken very definite positions”. 5G may be posing a greater national security threat than conventional mobile technology, the expert fears, stressing that:
With 4G there are specific modes of technology and we developed a very good understanding with Huawei of where we were able to monitor and look at that aspect of their offer. That is impossible with 5G.
The biggest problem is that China has a different legal and ethical framework which allows it to use and manipulate data sets on a very big scale.
Following these concerns, New Zealand, Australia and the United States have decided to ban Huawei from 5G networks.
It is interesting to note that in 2017, aserious cryptographic flaw was revealed during the Black Hat conference held in Las Vegas. The vulnerability was found in modern, high-speed cell networks and could allow affordable phone surveillance and location tracking.
It turned out that the 3G and 4G devices deployed worldwide were vulnerable to the so-called IMSI catcher or Stingray devices. The flaw was based on a weakness in the authentication and key agreement letting the device communicate safely with the network.