Terrorists could exploit 5G network, GCHQ chief warns

Monday 13 august 2018

The roll out of 5G could be hacked by “terrorists and hostile states”, the head of GCHQ has warned. Allowing other forms of new technology, such as artificial intelligence and “the internet of things”, to go ahead unchecked will leave Britain vulnerable to cyber-attacks, Jeremy Fleming said.

He added that China’s lead in 5G technology could pose a security risk to the UK’s vital infrastructure.

Writing in The Sundy Times, Mr Fleming said: “We have entered a new technological age, one that will fundamentally change the way we live, work and interact with each other.

“This new digital landscape will transform lives and economies as data analysis, artificial intelligence, 5G, the internet of things, quantum computing and many other technologies still being developed permeate all areas of human endeavour.”

He said these changes will bring huge benefits to society, including the transformation of healthcare and the creation of energy efficient cities.

“But they also bring risks that, if unchecked, could make us more vulnerable to terrorists, hostile states and serious criminals,” he said.

5G is expected to be a faster and more responsive network, with much greater capacity to meet rocketing demand for mobile video.

Mr Fleming said it is “increasingly likely” that critical technology, such as 5G, will come from China. “We must ensure that processes represent industry best practice so as to avoid real risk to the UK’s CNI [critical national infrastructure],” he said.

“We need to consider early, robust and fair solutions to the global challenge of balancing investment, trade and security.”

His warning comes as mobile operators gear up for 5G battle, as the race to build the new networks gets underway.

EE is planning Britain’s first commercial trial, while its rival Three has said it will use the technology as an opportunity to be more aggressive on pricing.