Ireland 'to cover' EU cyber security standards

Ireland 'to cover' EU cyber security standards
The Government is introducing security measures to protect against 5G cyber attacks. Stock picture

The Government said it is introducing security measures to cover all areas identified by the EU to protect the next generation of mobile networks from cyber attacks.

The Department of Communications told the Irish Examiner it will publish actions it is developing with telecommunications services on 5G for public consultation later this year.

The development follows the publication of a report by the EU on the implementation by member states of actions recommended in a Secure 5G “Toolbox” issued by the European Commission last January.

While the report didn’t specify that Ireland has implemented the measures it did highlight steps Ireland has taken.

The report is the latest in a comprehensive process initiated by the EU to protect 5G technology.

While the EU has not specified any country or company posing a threat to the new system, it follows growing concerns, led by the US authorities, of the purported threat posed by Huawei, the leading Chinese supplier of the technology.

Earlier this month, Britain banned the country’s telecoms networks from buying Huawei 5G kit from December 31 and instructed that all existing equipment must be stripped out of mobile networks by 2027.

Huawei strongly criticised the move and has rejected any claims that it posed a security threat or that its network could be compromised by Chinese intelligence.

An EU threat assessment, published last October, found that there were “threat actors” to 5G, in particular “non-EU state or state-backed actors” and followed this up with its toolbox on mitigating the threat.

Ireland is preparing Telecoms Security Requirements to protect the overall security of the network

Ireland, like other member states, produced a domestic threat assessment for the EU in July 2019 and last April submitted a report on its implementation of the toolkit.

The EU report said that 5G commercial services have been deployed in 12 member states, including two operators in Ireland.

It said the toolbox recommends a range of measures, including ones to strengthen the security of 5G networks from technical and human action and limiting dependency on a single supplier.

The report said a majority of member states who provided information evaluated their level of exposure to “potentially high-risk suppliers” as medium or high.

It said Ireland is currently preparing Telecoms Security Requirements (TSRs) to ensure infrastructure providers do “not adversely affect the overall security of the network”.

It said: “The TSRs define a number of technical and organisational controls that operators must implement to protect their networks from risks associated with third party access.” 

It also said Irish TSRs contain "detailed requirements" for strict controls on accessing the network.

Reacting, the Department of Communications said the National Cyber Security Strategy, published last December, sets out a range of measures the Government will take over the coming years and that this will build on the EU assessment.

It added: “The National Cyber Security Centre conducted the National Risk Assessment in early 2019, and is now working with industry on the development of a set of enhanced Telecoms Security Requirements (TSRs) to secure all telecommunications services in the State. These TSRs will encompass the full range of issues covered by the Toolbox, and will be published for public consultation later this year.”

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