Huawei’s chief security expert, John Suffolk, said that the UK would benefit enormously from working with its European neighbours on network security

The UK government and telecoms regulator should work with their European partners to define a single, codified security standard for 5G, according to Huawei’s top security official.

Speaking at a press conference in Shenzhen yesterday, Huawei’s global cyber security and privacy officer, John Suffolk, said that the implementation of a single, codified security standard would allow the UK to secure its networks and speed up 5G rollout.  

“As an ex-government person myself, my position is really quite clear: I think it is role of governments around the world to develop their policies, to develop standards and to develop certification schemes locally or in consultation with other governments, like they are doing in Europe. 

“Once you’ve done that, you need to hold all businesses to account – whether you are an enterprise or a vendor. 

“The more that governments can codify things the better. Europe is leading in that way. I do hope that the UK follows suit, regardless of what happens with us leaving [the EU]. I think the more countries we can bring together under a single security standard – even if that standard isn’t perfect – the better.

“My personal view is that the UK should team up with its European partners to come up with a standard that applies to the whole of the continent – whether the UK is in or out of the EU. The UK should treat all vendors the same. In essence, they should make sure that the country benefits from the best technology, regardless of the vendor, in a risk managed way.

“If I was in government now, that’s what I would be saying. Get your policies right, think about what’s right for the UK citizens and enterprises overall, maximise innovation and learn to manage risk. If you can do that, maybe we can stop cyber-attacks from happening and cut down on fraud and identity crime in the UK.,” he said.

Suffolk said that Huawei remained committed to being an open and transparent company, saying that he welcomed scrutiny from government bodies and regulators alike.

“I believe in the many eyes and many hands model. I like as many people as possible looking at our policies our processes our procedures,our technology and our testing. I want as many hands touching it as possible because we all have a different view of risk, our minds work differently. If I just get my engineers to look at a problem, they give me one dimension. If I ask a thousand different people then I get a thousand different perspectives,” he explained.  

When asked whether the security allegations against Huawei were politically motivated, Suffolk was circumspect.

“The reality is that we are a Chinese company. We are very proud to be a Chinese company but that means that in some quarters the spotlight will always be on you. There is nothing you can do about it – so you can whinge and moan but it’s meaningless. Our starting point is always this – what is right for the customer?

“We keep our chin up, puff out our chest and got on with it. We leave the politics to the politicians,” he added.

Ultimately, being tough on cyber security is simply good business sense, as Suffolk explained.

“It’s about creating a virtuous circle. You make better products and customers buy more of them from you,” he said. 

Suffolk closed by saying that only by working in collaboration with its European neighbours could the UK retain its position as a 5G leader.

“Our view is this: Give us a standard, we will achieve it – give us a certification, we will achieve it.

“Europe is working towards a cross European standard to cover IoT and 5G. We think that is a very, very positive step forward.”

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