National Strategy to Secure 5G Addresses Infrastructure Risk Posed by Adversarial Foreign Vendors

The White House rolled out a new strategy to move along development of the domestic 5G network while assessing risk particularly posed by high-risk vendors.

The National Strategy to Secure 5G aims to help “provide consumers, businesses, and governments with remarkably fast network connections that will enable tens of billions of new devices to harness the power of the Internet” while securing “a target-rich environment for those with nefarious motives due to the number and types of devices it will connect and the large volume of data that those devices will transmit,” President Trump said in a statement accompanying the strategy.

The 5G strategy expands on the National Cyber Strategy, which says the United States government “will work with the private sector to facilitate the evolution and security of 5G, examine technological and spectrum-based solutions, and lay the groundwork for innovation beyond next-generation advancements.”

“Criminals and foreign adversaries will seek to steal information transiting the networks for monetary gain and exploit these systems and devices for intelligence collection and surveillance. Adversaries may also disrupt or maliciously modify the public and private services that rely on communications infrastructure,” says the strategy. “Given these threats, 5G infrastructure must be secure and reliable to maintain information security and address risks to critical infrastructure, public health and safety, and economic and national security.”

The strategy is organized by five lines of effort, starting with the facilitation of domestic rollout of 5G led by the private sector and coordinated by the National Economic Council.

“The Administration will also continue to work aggressively with the private sector, as well as like-minded partners and allies to foster and promote the research, development, testing, and evaluation of new technologies and architectures that advance the state-of-the-art technology for 5G and beyond,” states the document.

Second is the assessment of risk to core security principles, and the development of 5G infrastructure security principles in the United States — utilizing and synchronizing “best practices in cybersecurity, supply chain risk management, and public safety.”

Thirdly, the U.S. government will “address the risks presented by the use of 5G to its economic and national security by analyzing the risks of 5G infrastructure and ensuring national critical functions and national essential functions are structured in such a way that they are resilient to these risks.”

This includes managing the supply chain risk to U.S. government systems and ensuring 5G is “deployed in a manner that protects the national security interests of the United States.”

“Executive Order (E.O.) 13873, issued on May 15, 2019, on ‘Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain’ establishes the authorities to prohibit certain transactions that involve information and communications technology or services designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of a foreign adversary that pose an undue or unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States,” the document continues. “The United States Government’s implementation of E.O. 13873 is designed to integrate and synchronize with activities by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the Federal – 5 – Acquisition Security Council, and United States Government reviews of certain Federal Communication Commission licenses involving foreign ownership. The United States Government will leverage these robust activities to address the risk of high-risk vendors in the 5G infrastructure.”

Finally, the strategy says international cooperation will be used to “lead the responsible international development and deployment of 5G technology” and to “promote the availability of secure and reliable equipment and services in the market.”

This includes developing and promoting international 5G security principles and standards, as well as incentivizing market competitiveness.

“The United States Government will join private sector and international partners in designing market-base incentives, accountability mechanisms, and evaluation schemas to assess diversity, component transparency, fair financing, and competition across the 5G technology landscape as a means to better secure the global network and protect American values of openness, security, and interoperability,” the strategy says.

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Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera and SiriusXM.

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