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Tuesday, 27 August 2019 04:02

Dire warnings from Huawei on Australia’s ‘cyber security woes’ Featured

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Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei says Australia risks facing serious issues with the deployment of 5G and future 6G technology unless new policies are introduced to address cyber security concerns.

The caution on security comes from Huawei Australia chief technology and cyber security officer David Soldani, who told the Emerging Innovation Summit in Melbourne that “the current approach being taken towards cyber security on 5G mobile networks solves absolutely nothing – and that will be exposed further in 6G.

“Blocking companies from certain countries does nothing to make Australia any safer from cyber security issues – in fact, it just makes things worse because they are not addressing the real issues on cyber-security,” Soldani warned.

Soldani also pointed out that whilst future 6G networks would offer extraordinary potential for new applications and services — far greater than what will be available on 5G — this would come with additional risks.

“Huawei is already way ahead of our rivals on 6G research and we can see that the way in which we will be gathering and consuming data on those 6G networks means the cyber security risks will increase.

“The way that future 6G networks are designed means that the attack surface is larger for potential attacks as the traditional network boundaries and security control zone become ever wider.

“In addition, with the converge of management and control plane, AI will poses a significant impact on network security, as it might be exploited to launch more effective attacks, and in some scenarios, the security of AI systems is a matter of life and death.”

Soldani said that unlike security vulnerabilities in traditional systems, the root cause of security weaknesses in machine learning systems lies in the lack of explicability, which leaves openings that can be exploited by adversarial machine learning methods such as evasion, poisoning, and backdoor attacks.

“Attackers may also implant backdoors in models and launch targeted attacks or extract model parameters or training data from query results,” he said.

Soldani urged policy makers to take note of the recent communique from the ‘Five Eyes’ countries of the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia which called for a new approach to cyber security.

“The communique from the Five Eyes was absolutely clear that countries need to ensure entire supply chains are trusted and reliable to protect our networks from unauthorised access or interference,” he said.

“This means there is absolutely no point in simply banning companies from certain countries — it actually makes Australia less secure because it means we have to then increase our reliance on just one or two other vendors — neither of whom are having their equipment tested.”

Soldani also pointed out that the Five Eyes communique had stressed the need for the introduction of an evidence-based risk assessment to support the implementation of agreed-upon principles for setting international standards for securing cyber networks.

“International experts such as Greg Austin the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in Singapore have already said that the Huawei 5G ban in Australia will be futile in terms of countering cyber security threats,” he said.

“Unless Australia changes it approach and adopts a standards and certification led approach to security then it will simply sleepwalk into a world of cyber security problems in both 5G and 6G for which it is totally unprepared.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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