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UK Should Understand Threats From Chinese Telecom Firms: GCHQ

UK Should Understand Threats From Chinese Telecom Firms: GCHQ
The potential "opportunities and threats" of using Chinese technology should be understood by the United Kingdom, said the country’s cyber-security agency.
The need for better cyber-security practices in the telecoms industry was stressed in a speech by Jeremy Fleming, director of the GCHQ. "It's a hugely complex strategic challenge," he said.
The traditional allies of the United States are being urged by the Trump administration to ban the participation of Chinese tech firm Huawei from the construction of 5networks in their countries. The US is fears that there could be a threat to national security form such usage because Huawei’s equipment could be used a backdoor entry by Chinese agencies to spy on western countries.
Huawei has been associated with most of the mobile companies in the UK including Vodafone, EE and Three, in the development and roll out of 5G networks in the country. Those companies are now however waiting to see what the government says in its review of the company in March or April following which the inclusion or exclusion of Huawei from partnering with any of the telecom services companies would be decided.
Questions over China's role in the UK tech sector were raised by MI6 chief Alex Younger in December. On the other hand, a recent report issued by the Royal United Services Institute warned that it would be "naive" and "irresponsible" to use equipment supplied by Huawei in the country’s telecom network and thereby giving them access to the core operations.
But the National Cyber Security Centre - part of GCHQ had opined last week that any of the potential threats posed by the Chinese company could be managed
There as concern among the government in achieving a balance in the supply chain, said Fleming in a  speech at an event in Singapore, he added that the UK government was also trying to make sure that enough diversity in the number of vendors for supplying telecommunications equipment.
"We have to understand the opportunities and threats from China's technological offer - understand the global nature of supply chains and service provision, irrespective of the flag of the supplier," he said.
"Take a clear view on the implications of China's technological acquisition strategy in the West, and help our governments decide which parts of this expansion can be embraced, which need risk management, and which will always need a sovereign, or allied, solution."
He added: "How we deal with it will be crucial for prosperity and security way beyond 5G contracts."
Stressing the need for stronger cyber-security across the telecoms sector, Mr Fleming said: "Vulnerabilities can and will be exploited. But networks should be designed in a way that cauterises the damage," said Fleming while emphasizing on the need for the UK to formulate and implement stronger cyber-security across the telecoms sector.
The roll out of 5G would be critical for the UK so that it can remain competitive as a country, said Gartner senior research director Sylvain Fabre. "They are reviewing the situation, in a way that hasn't been done in the past, but it sounds like all options are still on the table," he said.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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