5G Mobile Technology Poses An Espionage Risk

Superfast "fifth generation 5G" mobile internet could be launched as early as next year in some countries, promising download speeds 10 to 20 times faster than we have now. 

What is 5G exactly?
It's the next, fifth-generation of mobile Internet connectivity promising much faster data download and upload speeds, wider coverage and more stable connections. It's all about making better use of the radio spectrum and enabling far more devices to access the mobile internet at the same time. 

When is it coming?
Most countries are unlikely to launch 5G services before 2020, but Qatar's Ooredoo says it has already launch a commercial service, while South Korea is aiming to launch next year, with its three largest network operators agreeing to kick off at the same time. China is also racing to launch services in 2019.

5G technology can be used for espionage purposes. 
This is according to David Vigneault, Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), 5G can be used to target large companies and universities in order to get new information and technologies. Targets are mostly dual-use technologies, having both civilian and possibly military or 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,” he said. 

“I’m talking about areas such as AI, quantum technology, 5G, biopharma and clean tech. In other words, the foundation of Canada’s future growth.” 

Mr. Vigneault said large corporations typically hold the most valuable information but they try to put in state-of-the-art cyber defenses, while Canadian universities are largely unaware how they are vulnerable to economic espionage and the threat of infiltration by unnamed state actors who would use their expertise to gain an edge in military technologies. 

These comments come at a time when the head of UK’s Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, raised concerns of Huawei, the Chinese technology giant, being involved in the development of the country’s 5G infrastructure. 5G, the next iteration of mobile network technology, could potentially help cities become more connected to smart technology. 

According to MI6 Chief Alex Younger, “We need to decide the extent to which we are going to be comfortable with Chinese ownership of these technologies and these platforms in an environment where some of our allies have taken very definite positions”.

Echoing the words of spy chiefs in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, Mr. Younger said 5G technology, which offers faster download speeds, poses a greater national security threat than conventional mobile technology.

“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,” Mr. Younger said. “That is impossible with 5G.”

The MI6 chief said the advent of 5G technology would make it more challenging to monitor Huawei technology, a task made especially difficult by China’s one-party state. “In China, they have a different legal and ethical framework,” Mr. Younger said.

“They are able to use and manipulate data sets on a scale that we can only dream of.”

These concerns regarding 5G technology also come at a time when three members (New Zealand, Australia, US) of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance have decided to ban Huawei from 5G networks.

I-HLS:         BBC

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