The UK needs higher standards of cyber security across the telecoms sector, a top spy boss said today, insisting no conclusion has been reached about the use of Huawei’s 5G equipment.
Speaking at a cyber security conference in Brussels this afternoon, Ciaran Martin, head of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), said the telecoms market must incentivise good security standards to help fend off cyber attacks.
“We must have higher standards of cyber security across the entire telecommunications sector,” Martin said. “The number one pre-condition for safe 5G is better cyber security.”
Martin said the government could bring in new regulations and industry best practices in a bid to enforce more stringent cyber security.
The spy boss also said competition in the 5G supplier market is needed to ensure the infrastructure is not vulnerable to cyber attacks.
“Any company in an excessively dominant market position will not be incentivised to take cyber security seriously,” he said.
The comments came ahead of the NCSC’s annual report into the security of Huawei technology, which is due to be published in the coming weeks.
Martin today said the spy group, which is part of GCHQ, has not yet made a decision on whether the Chinese firm’s equipment is safe for use in the UK’s 5G infrastructure. But he insisted the NCSC is closely monitoring Huawei and said it would not give the all-clear unless there is sufficient evidence.
“We will not compromise on the improvements we need to see from Huawei’s cyber security,” he told reporters.
Martin said the NCSC has strict controls for how Huawei is deployed, adding it is not used in any sensitive networks, such as those of the government.
Huawei is currently under intense scrutiny amid fears its technology could be used for spying by Chinese authorities. Huawei has denied the claims.
The Chinese telecoms giant has pledged to address the issues raised in the NCSC’s last annual report, but has warned the process could take three to five years.